Crocodile Shoes, Pizza, Italy

The train left Rimini while it was still dark.

Young men were hanging out of the windows, waving and making noise. It reminded me of people waving from a window of a house on fire, except their expressions were happy. I’m not sure if it was early morning or late night, but it was an Italian August, hot and humid. Rimini was a town for parties.

I stepped in and found my seat. It was in a cabin for four, with only one other occupant besides me. I settled down and looked at the crocodile leather shoes on the man seated opposite me. He introduced himself as a lawyer from Milan, going to the south for some business.

After I told him my destination, he gave me an impromptu speech on the perils of going to Napoli all by myself, waving his finger in a warning tone. Then he got back to the stack of yellow papers he’d dug up from his brown suitcase.

My train ride was a long one. Near empty stations passed as the train lazily sled toward Naples. Since I would arrive very early, I was planning on going there for the day and then continuing onto a nearby beach town to find a hotel for the night.

At some point the lawyer left the train. Another Italian man entered the cabin and sat down opposite me.

He was a poet and one of the first things he did was hand me an autographed copy of a little self-published booklet. It was light blue and had short poems in it. I almost understood the words but not quite the meaning: those were the limits of my Italian.

He, too, warned me to be careful in Naples. Contrary to the first man, he also gave me something positive to think of. “Try the pizza, it’s especially good there.” Yes, I had already heard all about the pizza.

My day in Naples went fast. I didn’t get robbed and I didn’t meet the mafia. I walked, I saw, I stepped aside for vespas. I ate pizza. The cook made it into the shape of a heart.

It was one of my first heart-shaped pizzas in Italy, but not the last.

*** Memories from summer 2003 which I spent traveling around Italy by myself, before internet hotel booking sites and mobile apps, when booking a hotel room in August could easily turn into a chore. It’s one of my favorite destinations… more about it later in this blog

37 responses to “Crocodile Shoes, Pizza, Italy

    • I can imagine. Everywhere in Italy, I kept hearing warnings about other towns. Maybe it was because I was a young woman traveling alone. At the same time, Italians were the most welcoming and friendly people and I loved it there!


  1. Someone of Milan talks about something of Naples… 😀
    All big cities in the world could be dangerous! Naples is as dangerous as Milan, if you travel alone in a dangerous district in the middle of the night 😛
    Photos are magnificent ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I was always surprised at all the warnings I got 🙂 As a tourist, Naples seemed just like any other city. Obviously I was there only one day so I don’t know much! 🙂 Anyway, it was a fun summer, lots of train rides and weird conversations with people. Ciao!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful photos and great story! Italy and the Italian people are wonderful. Never made it to Naples, but I’ve been down the Adriatic coast all the way to Bari. That was a long time ago! I think I need to go back and refresh my memory!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, Naples does have a bad reputation, but it’s best not to believe everything you hear. Our eldest daughter took her archaeology students there and really enjoyed it. Nick and I stayed in Sorento in 2006 and got out to Pompeii and Herculaneum but not into Naples. It sounds as though you had a very enjoyable time there. Loved your account of the train journey. You meet such interesting characters!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember clutching my bag close to me in the metro in Rome, for everyone had cautioned about being careful there. But the real thing happened in the night train from Rome to Venice. Some passengers’ luggage were missing when we reached Venice. But despite all this, I would love to go to Italy again – Naples sounds good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Travel Bloggers – The Snow Melts Somewhere | Andy's World Journeys·

  6. Seems you and I were in Italy at the same time of the year in 2003. I was there on business for 3 weeks and travelled by train for the most part. I had been to Italy a couple of times before and got to Naples each time. Did you ever go back?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never did return to Naples, but I’ve been to Italy several times since. My favorite places were Florence and its surroundings. Hope to go back one day – soon… Did you like Naples?


      • I like just about anywhere really. The first time I went I knew little about the country (this was pre-internet days) and I went to a local travel agent and got some brochures. I had a desire to go to the Isle of Capri, which is why I headed to Naples, to catch a ferry from there. I have been back to the city and wandered around a lot more. I do like it I must say.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ps. I traveled around Italy a lot in the summer of 2003, stayed there for 3 months, mostly in hostels but I also knew some people there… Good memories. Did you visit Florence at all?


      • Yes, I got to Florence a couple of times. When I lived in the USA (96-06) I worked for a university and managed its Student Exchange program. That involved a LOT of travel, as I went around various potential universities. Italy is popular with students, which is why I was in the country for 3 weeks in 2003. I visited Milan, Trento (in Tuscany), Perugia (in Umbria) and also Venice….and a few smaller towns in between. Now back in Australia it takes a lot more to get there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sounds like a fun job if you’re into traveling! I had a friend who lived in Trento so I visited it too – in 2003… she and some others took me around lots of places I don’t remember the names of… pre-internet era, as you said! 🙂


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.