I'm not long back from a fantastic visit to Naples, Italy on a homespun business retreat. Joined by my ace friends who head up Typical Type, Blade & Rose,Ginger Bakers and A Corner Of Eden, we immersed ourselves in this wonderfully bonkers city, which was an assault on the senses in the best possible way!
Highlights of our visit included:
- Spending time in the city itself. It has a chaotic, lawless feel yet everything still seems to work quite happily. It leaves you wondering if us Brits are maybe just a bit too uptight and rule abiding?!
- A prevailing attitude that waiters and waitresses knew what we needed better than we did - they just gave us what they thought we should have. At home it would have been frustrating, in Naples it just led to much laughter, hilarity and satisfaction.
- Crazy juxtapositions everywhere: magical painted ceilings unseen above the school run, frescoes and shrines next to electrical stores with deliciously dated signage covered in random Christmas decorations that no one seem motivated to remove.
- An early morning walk to the chaotic markets to meet fag smoking fish sellers.
- A random man on the phone in a hospital which seemed otherwise deserted. The only occupied window out of hundreds...I wonder what the conversation was about?
- The Dolls' Hospital...please don't feel freaked out by the photos...I know as much as anyone how weird dolls can be, but, unexpectedly, this was one of the most emotional places I have ever been. So packed full of thoughtfulness, stories, hope and care. You should read up on the history of it and definitely visit if you are ever there. Throughout the whole city- despite the littered streets - there was an inspiring culture of mending and re-purposing.
- Herculaneum: free from crowds, eerie, sad, awe-inspiring, devastating, beautiful. I think we were all ready for an over priced beer (not the one we asked for!) and a sunset while we waited for the train back into town.
- A (rather rough!) jet boat trip to beautiful Capri, and a calmer one Sorrento, where we met the cute artist guy David waging a one-man war against mass produced tourist tat with his tiny, beautiful 3 euro paintings...and a glamorous older lady who couldn't believe anyone would want a photo of her. Both stunning places with a welcome sense of calm.
We ate great food the whole time, but Tandem deserves a special mention for the most AMAZING ragu, which quickly made it into my top 10 things I have EVER eaten!
I'm so, so lucky to be able to go on adventures like these and would absolutely urge you to grab a random group of friends and plan one. Our flights were less than £30 return and costs whilst there were hugely reasonable. We ate, we drank, we laughed a lot and we also talked about work, business, trends, challenges and successes. There's no better way to learn!