The other weekend Sal and I popped over to Naples as part of my work’s annual company holiday. It’s always an entertaining experience watching your colleagues get spectacularly drunk and do silly things, and this weekend was no exception. Before we went, I’d heard many things about the fine city of Naples, mostly along the lines of “nice pizza, shame about the city” (my mum, helpfully, said “well, isn’t that what they say: ‘see Naples and die’?”)

Of course with our expectations set suitably low we couldn’t realistically be disappointed, and it turned out to be not nearly as bad as we were expecting (thinks… perhaps other shabby cities could use this kind of reverse psychology in their marketing–“come to Bognor Regis, you’ll hate it!” etc). The pizza is indeed fantastic, but the memory that will remain with me and no doubt most of the other visitors to the city is not, sadly, the wonderful dough-based food, or the beauty of the coast, Vesuvius or Pompeii, but the city’s drivers. I’ve seen some crazy driving in my time (in Turkey and Barcelona this year alone), but the roads in Naples operate in a world of their very own (I don’t believe I saw a vehicle without dents during the entire weekend), and a stay in the city is soundtracked by the continual wail of ambulance (never police) sirens.

Crossing the road is also a rather interesting feature of the city. The best strategy seems to be just walking out in front of the cars looking like you know what you’re doing, not showing any signs of hesitation or weakness and hoping for the best. Takes a bit of adjusting to remember that that isn’t such a good idea when you get back to London, though…

The company weekend is mostly an opportunity to get drunk somewhere interesting, but we do have the formality of a company meeting on the Saturday afternoon during which we spend hours discussing how to make the company better and then instantly forget everything we’ve decided and never implement any of the proposals. (It did provide some amusement value, though: I had to try my best not to laugh at one point during the meeting, when the director who was chairing our discussion group–who had been calling one of the other members of the group by the wrong name for the first half of the meeting until he asked her a direct question and she was forced to stop ignoring it and correct him–suggested that the directors “may be out of touch with what’s going on”. Hmm. You don’t say…)

With the formalities out of the way, we all headed off into the city in teams to attempt to complete a list of challenges and return with photographic evidence of team members doing things like making silly poses outside various monuments, or drinking in various bars. By far the most interesting challenge was attempting to persuade strangers to kiss various members of the group. With 3 bonus points up for grabs for every member of the team photographed being kissed by a stranger of the same sex, the scoring system was heavily skewed towards this one challenge. Sadly, it turns out it’s surprisingly difficult to persuade Italian men to kiss another man on the cheek in public (“…if I do this here, people will think things about me”, said one). The silly macho homophobic idiots…

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  1. Hi Matt,
    I just thought I’d let you know I really enjoy reading posts on your blog, sounds like your trip was a real blast. I hope to visit Naples someday. Check out my blog when you have the time, its about football.

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