As I stepped out of my hotel I was feeling panicky. I was in Naples, the eldest was alone upstairs in our room, and I was setting off with an Italian man I’d never met for a tour of a city with a chaotic reputation. What’s more, the tour was by Vespa, and I still have the scars from the last time I was on one of those, twenty years ago. Frankly, I didn’t know what to worry about most.
The tour had sounded like a great idea when I’d booked it. Emiliano Tufano is an archaeologist and tour guide and offers Vespa tours of the area. We had a free morning in Naples on an Adventure Company family trip and when I called Emiliano he said he’d be happy to show us around. He said he’d come with another guide and two Vespas so that the eldest and I could both go on the tour.
But, the day before the Vespa tour the eldest decided she’d prefer not to come. Once she said this, I started to worry about going but I had a commission to write about the tour, which meant that I had to experience it. Against my instincts, I left the eldest at the hotel. What made me even more uneasy was that we were leaving the hotel to transfer to Sorrento that morning, which meant that she would have to get our luggage out of our room by herself. When I left her she was in bed, hadn’t had breakfast and her stuff was everywhere apart from in her suitcase. Our lovely tour guide had assured me he’d make sure she left the hotel with the rest of our group and our luggage to meet at a pizzeria for lunch. She was happy with the plan, so I had to ignore my protective mother-hen instincts and trust that everything would work out fine.
It worked out more than fine – it was brilliant. I needn’t have worried about the eldest – she managed splendidly and was happily eating a pizza and chatting when we met later. She’d done what she needed to with our luggage. As for me, Emiliano sensed my nerves as soon as we met, and reassured me that the tour would be safe. I found that I loved whizzing around on the red Vespa, bumping over cobbles, weaving through traffic and nipping down tiny streets. It must be the best way to see this vibrant city. Emiliano speaks excellent English and patiently answered my stream of questions about this, Italy’s third largest city. As well as touring the main sights we stopped off for a coffee at a marble-topped bar, popped into a church where human bones are worshipped, met some craftsmen who were carving some Christmas decorations and bought a Lotto ticket from a back street shop where the owner uses a book to interpret dreams into Lotto numbers:
It turned out to be a great way to see the life of this notoriously chaotic city, an absorbing tour which I would definitely recommend. And I’ve learnt that the eldest is definitely capable of packing her suitcase and checking out of a hotel room, all by herself. There was no need for me to worry, after all.