Where do you go when you're bored of the usual places, you don't want to go too far, offer variety and is affordable? Naples. After watching Francesco Da Mosta's Italy from head to toe. I just had to go there. First it was the city itself, but as I read more, I found that Sorrento, Pompeii, Vesuvius and Caserta were all there. It was a strange choice, after all, Naples didn't have a good reputation, what with crime, unemployment and the mafia. However, enough people go there, though not everybody's cup of tea. Rome, Venice and Florence do far better in terms of visitor numbers. The pros far outweigh the cons and after all, there are far more places out there, that I wouldn't dream of going, even if I was paid to.
Looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Naples is a very special city. Despite the social problems, Naples has character and lots of it. The city itself has much to offer, even as I read the guidebook, I keep finding new places that are worth visiting and Tripadvisor is a gem to travellers. I could only go to so many places in the space of a week. Pompeii isn't the tourist trap as people say. Herculanium is not a smaller version of Pompeii. Paestum is a fantastic place if you are into classical history. The Royal Palace of Caserta is one of the finest in Europe. Sorrento is fantastic and Vesuvius is something else. Naples is very different from other popular Italian cities, in that it is very real. Nobody is dressing it up and nobody is making it something it is not. This gives it a special charm and whilst I agree that Naples isn't everybody's cup of tea. I will say that it isn't as bad as many people make it out to be. The sun usually shines and the food is fantastic.
I spent a fair bit of time on the train and after reading Tim Park's Italian Ways. I agree with him fully. The Italian railway is great, far better than in Blighty and cheaper too.