Postcard from... Naples


Two days in Naples doesn't sound very long. But it was enough to get a taste of what this theatrical southern port is all about.

The weather was kind. Sunshine and 25C at the end of the October feels likes a gift for someone bracing himself for a winter in northern Italy.

A conman called Antonio, working outside Zara, is so charming he almost manages to sell me a parrot.

The seafront, closed to traffic, is especially lovely. And most of the rubbish seems to have gone. But the suspicion is that much of it has just been moved away from the centre.

On Wednesday the public prosecutor orders the arrest of three senior carabinieri officers in connection with the Camorra-rubbish scandal that has plagued the city's streets. Later I watch as two kids on a scooter snatch the bag being carried by a tourist from Rome. His neck was hurt when the bag was wrenched away. He doesn't want to borrow my mobile phone to call the police. "What's the point?" No one else seems very bothered.

The hotel is supposed to charge my credit card. Mysteriously, the machine is broken. Do I mind paying with cash (and receiving a handwritten receipt)?

On Thursday, time for lunch before getting the train to Milan. What can you get for €11 (£8.80) in London? Not a generous antipasto of cuttlefish, squid with ricotta, peas and herbs, followed by rigatoni with succulent chunks of artichoke in béchamel sauce and then a plate of aromatic friarielli. If the Gran Chic Café in Corso Garibaldi isn't in the guides, then it ought to be.