Days 1–3. Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri.

Current situation. Sat on the 12.31 train to Roma Termini. Trying hard to write but greedily distracted by the salami sandwiches of the family seated next to me. I am ravenous. Can’t stop thinking about last nights pizza. This isn’t proving fruitful for my writing capabilities.

We have just left Naples. Our beautiful Air BnB host offered us coffee which we politely declined in order to promptly catch the train. I regret this now. Coffee would have most certainly lead to breakfast.

Did you know that Naples airport is in the city? Literally, you could walk there from central station in no time at all. At one point during landing I honestly thought we were about to crash into a McDonalds. This is terrifying when you’re the person on the plane but possibly the best thing ever when you’re in Vomero and can watch them take off and land.

That’s where we stayed, Vomero. It’s the area on top of the big hill you’ll see in all photographs of Naples. No, not that one, that’s Vesuvius.

Our host Paola immediately invited us in for coffee, much to the delight of me but horror of her boyfriend who was sat eating cereal in his white y-fronts. Well, I say horror, but I’m really just adding some dramatics to proceedings. Actually, he was extremely nonchalant about the fact two strange foreigners could basically see the outline of his penis.

We drank fresh coffee and had local peanuts on the terrace. She seemed amused by our complete lack of basic skills such as cracking open peanuts. We were amused at her boyfriends unrelenting assumption that we’d understand Dutch. We held a long conversation where all parties didn’t really know what the other was going on about. We laughed.

At some point we left to explore Naples. We walked down the pedamentina a San Martino and got blisters. Our calves ached so much that if we stood still, our legs shook. So we didn’t stop. We walked down the Main Street, an array of pizza shops, high street shops, tabacchi and men shoving selfie sticks in your face. People. Lots and lots of people. Heat.

Current situation: I am NOW writing this on the 13.20 train to Firenze santa maria novella. I haven’t had time to write because apparently Rome is chock full of history and it keeps you rather occupied. Who knew?

Back to Naples. I don’t care much for Naples. I loved Vomero but straying more than five minutes from that area made me irritable. Its not an enjoyable city to explore. Narrow dark streets that lead to more narrow dark streets that eventually lead to huge, horrid streets full of people. It’s covered in graffiti; blacked out train windows, historical buildings, even peoples homes. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy a home on Right Move when it has ‘Domenico 4 Gabi’ scrawled on the side of it but there you go.

It’s not so much a bad city and I don’t hate it, but I don’t want to holiday there. It’s a Rochdale to your Manchester, Stevenage to your London. Very much a base city than one you’d choose to visit on its own volition. Unless you love graffiti.

(Though to be fair to it, it does do good pizza, interesting metro and has 1 good castle.)

So, as you’ll probably expect, my favourite part of Naples was leaving Naples.

First stop was Pompeii. Only 30% of Pompeii has been excavated. Did you know that? I didn’t and I studied it for a year. Also, most people died aged 30–40 because all their piping was led, they had terrible diets and they couldn’t stop getting bloody syphilis. My favourite part of the tour was the huge schlongs carved into the pavement. Apparently, they were either a “sat nav” to direct people to the red light district, or, even better, a way to wish a couple good fertility. Imagine that. Your friends announce they’re starting a family and you celebrate by carving a massive knob outside their front door. It’s brilliant.

After Pompeii we went to Herculaneum which I thought was fantastic but Shannan thought was boring. Shannan is wrong. It’s so well preserved it still has wooden doors in tact. WOODEN DOORS FROM BC. That’s epic. Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say on that one because we didn’t get a tour guide because she was rude and we were stubborn. We all lost in that situation.

Onto the next day, which began as my own personal Tartarus; the Sorrento line via Pompeii. Packed in, scorching heat, roasting like a joint of beef, clinging to your bag with vigour as you try ignore the begging family of three playing despacito and forcing cups beneath your face. I do not care for music on public transport but especially not when it is Justin Bieber.

2 hours later and we arrived. Pinterest doesn’t do Sorrento justice. It is beautiful. We plonked down in a tourist trap restaurant because we had just experienced a TRAUMA of a train journey and needed overpriced cannelloni to recuperate. We proceeded to walk through the winding streets towards the sea and I took lots of pictures for the ‘gram. Shannan at one point stopped for gelato but didn’t tell me so I didn’t manage to get one. I saw lots of limoncello but forgot to get my dad any limoncello. Sorry about that, Rog but you shall remain without limoncello.

To Capri. Capri is the kind of place where the ATMs only give you €50 notes. This works out well really because everything in Capri costs around €50. We went to the blue lagoon which was beautiful and also a total rip off. The best part was the boat drivers impatiently screaming and shouting at each other across the water. Italians have serious road rage and it is a marvellous spectacle. When we finally went into the lagoon we were shoved into the bottom of the boat, quite literally, laid down staring up at an Italian mans crotch. Then he pulled us into the lagoon USING A CHAIN and flooded us with water. Inside, the water radiated a bright shade of turquoise and the boatmen sang songs that were most certainly not like the sirens but most definitely rude. Shannan wondered if the cave was lit up and it was all a conspiracy. We do not currently have the evidence to confirm or deny this theory.

After this we went to the beach. I tentatively tried to go for a swim but the pebbled beach was too much for my delicate English feet. We got the ferry back to Naples because we are not masochists and refused to board that train again. We had one last pizza and the next morning, we left for Rome.

I shall update you about Rome throughout the next few train journeys. Presumably, It shall be completed some time during the Leeds to Manchester train around mid-November.