The Best and Worst of Naples - cont'd.

The fun continued when we arrived at our "hotel." We picked the Hotel Duomo because it was just one block from the Duomo, Naples' cathedral, where we planned to see the Miracle of San Gennaro the next day. What we found, however, was a dingy gray building barred by an iron gate, with a tiny placard indicating the hotel on the second floor. When we finally figured out how to get in, we wandered into what looked more like someone's living room than a hotel lobby. And our room was the icing on the cake: barely useable fixtures, badly rundown conditions, and worst of all, the pervasive smell of urine.

By this time, it was nearly 8:00 p.m., and we hadn't eaten since lunchtime, but we knew we couldn't stay here. Luckily, we happened upon a travel agent just a few doors down, and found another hotel. In fact, as luck would have it, the only place with availability happened to be the best hotel in Naples, the Hotel Vesuvio. After seeing the Hotel Duomo, for which the award of one star was an act of extreme generosity, we were only too happy to splurge on this high-end, five-star establishment.

Experiencing the Neapolitan traffic from the perspective of a taxicab on the way to the hotel was even more eye-opening. Perhaps the most memorable sight was that of an entire family on a moped, weaving in and out of bumper-to-bumper traffic: the husband driving, the wife behind, a young child on the back, and a baby in a basket on the handlebars.

Arriving at the Hotel Vesuvio at last, we could finally relax. With terrycloth robes and towel heaters, electronic controls for all the room lights, and a location right on the waterfront, overlooking an ancient castle, it might be said that we saw the best and worst of Naples' hotels on our very first day.

Next: The Miracle of San Gennaro

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