Our Italy itinerary was taking shape. We knew we had a week in Tuscany around which to work and that we wanted to spend at least one more week seeing other parts of Italy. But where? Rome was a given since that’s where we were flying in and out of. Where else could we go that’s close to Rome and/or Tuscany, and that would be easily accessible? It didn’t take long for us to decide: Napoli. It’s the birthplace of one of our family’s basic food groups, pizza, and also the birthplace of many of my distant relatives. It’s where my and my mother’s roots are. It was a no-brainer; we had to go.
With my two-year-old daughter.
“Am I nuts?” I thought. How could I, as a responsible parent, bring my child to a place that is notoriously crime-ridden, dirty, and chaotic? Most adults I know wouldn’t go there on their own, let alone with children.
Well, we went to Napoli and we survived. And we loved it. Yes, it is dirty. Yes, it is chaotic (insane is another word that comes to mind). But the people, the Neapolitans, made up for it. They are passionate – about everything: about one another, their families, their relationships, their food. They treated us with utmost kindness everywhere we went, from the personnel at our hotel to strangers who offered us help on the train. And they love children. We witnessed this just about everywhere we went in Italy, but the Neapolitans just adored Lucia. She received more waves and “ciaos” than we could count. The housekeeping ladies at our hotel waited outside our room for Lucia to come out in the morning so they could coo at and play with her. The gentleman from the bar next door to our hotel would greet us in the courtyard, waiting with kisses and blessings for Lucia. It may sound creepy to some people, but we welcomed the attention and savored it. Our family at home in the USA is quite similar in that regard; perhaps it’s because of our Neapolitan roots.
At no time during our stay in Napoli did we feel unsafe or uncomfortable, even amongst the maddening crowds with our toddler in tow. It was quite the opposite, actually. It felt as if people took extra care because of Lucia. So, am I nuts for bringing my two year old to Napoli? I don’t think so. But I do think it’s nuts for people to not even consider visiting Napoli because they think it’s not smart or not safe enough to bring their kids.