I have only lived in Naples for about 5 months now – five crazy, glorious, exhausting, and confounding months, and it’s been long enough to confirm my first impressions of the city.

I had only visited Naples once before moving here. It was during a short, 2-day portion of a longer conference that mostly took place in Rome. I had been to Rome previously and loved the city. Some people dream of visiting the Holy Land; some people spend their whole life hoping to see the pyramids. I always wanted to visit Rome – to marvel at the architecture, to smell the incense, to sit in a piazza and watch the world go by as it has for centuries – and I was not disappointed.

People warned me that, if I loved Rome, I might find Naples to be… well… a bit much. A few minutes on google, and one quickly learns about the noise, the garbage, and the corruption in this most ancient of cities. Other Italians may marvel at the beauty of the Amalfi coast and Vesuvius, but they seldom mention Napoli without a slight nod of their head or jut of their chin. Naples is a different world, and they’re not quite sure they like it.

They’re right. Naples is a different world. Visiting Rome is like attending a symphony or an opera. It’s harmonious. Its beauty is classic (albeit not all “classical.”) In La Grande Ballezza, the city is appropriately introduced by the a haunting, but gorgeous melody sung by the Torino Vocalensamble .

Naples, on the other hand, is like attending a rock concert. I believe I first described it to my wife by comparing it to Ke$ha. You want the perfect soundtrack to Naples, check out this:

First impressions confirmed.

Naples is busy, loud, often dirty, and not infrequently frustrating, but it’s full of life, history, love and beauty. You don’t see Naples, you experience it. It doesn’t just happen around you, it drills into your senses… into your heart… into your soul.

Rick Steves wrote “If you like Italy as far south as Rome, go farther south – It gets better. If Italy is getting on your nerves, don’t go further. Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper. Naples is Italy in the extreme….” (Rick Steves’ Italy, 996)

I couldn’t agree more, and that is why I love it here so much.