Is Naples safe? Is Naples worth a visit? These are the most relevant questions foreigners have asked me about Naples. I’m trying to make the interesting side of Naples visible through a virtual exploration of the city by writing about my 5 favourite top picks or the best street art and street food in the city. Yet, I still feel the urge to tackle question number one: is Naples safe? Let’s settle this question once and for all!
I’ve travelled quite a lot, not as much as I wanted to, but still, I can’t complain. Travelling to many different places in the world means discovering new cultures for sure, but carrying your personal cultural baggage with you, too. This also means facing the stereotypes other cultures may have towards your own.
Being Italian I have gone through multiple jokes about our hand gestures and pasta obsession and that's pretty much okay because, well it's true. I do use my hands a lot when speaking and eating pasta every day does not seem an aberration to me. Besides, if used ironically, stereotypes can be used as a way to have fun or to break the ice with people you just met in your hostel. However, there are some "hurting" stereotypes that can be, and indeed many times are, offensive or insulting.
Stereotypes about Naples abound and people are unabashedly proud of some of them, whereas others need to be tackled cautiously. I’m of course referring to the mafia, something that has caused harm (and still continues to do so) to countless innocent people. For this reason, the mafia is no joke. It’s real, it hurts and kills people: “problematic” does not even begin to cover this issue.
Such a big problem has engendered multiple and different consequences and one of them regards the infamous question: is Naples safe? To this question I answer with no exception this: Naples is as safe as any other city in Europe, or in the world, for that matter. It’s undeniable that some cities are safer than others and I would never question that. However, I just find deeply unfair that Naples has to be so harshly stigmatized. Naples has to face numerous issues every day, but these don’t imply that the city is as dangerous as some articles, comments or reviews on the Internet portray it.
Once, a friend of mine from England told me she visited Naples some years ago and that her camera got stolen in Sorrento. She kept remarking this point quite a few times and I started to become a little impatient. Firstly, Sorrento is not technically Naples. Secondly, as sorry as I can be for the theft of a camera with all its precious moments in it, cameras are currently being stolen literally in every part of the world.
What I’m trying to say is: unfortunate things can happen everywhere. Pickpocketing can happen evn on your train ride home from work. After all, snatchers and con-artists do this for a living, meaning that they’ll always be a step ahead of you for obvious reasons. This kind of things, though, can unluckily happen everywhere, especially in big cities.
Personally, I haven’t felt safe in other European cities like London, Paris or Athens on various occasions. And yes, this has happened in Naples, too. Does this mean that I think those cities are not safe? No. I don’t think that London is not a safe city, yet some scary things have happened while I was living there. The same reasoning applies to Naples. Even though I’ve overall felt safe in all those cities, I can’t deny that there have been some moments when I haven’t felt that way. But, again, I can’t reconsider the 95% of the time safely spent there for the sake of that 5%.
Although, when travelling, we cannot be always held responsible if an unlucky event befalls us, we should still use the basic rules for playing it safe and don’t draw too much attention. Truth be told, Naples has only recently become a more tourists-friendly city. It still has a long way to go, but avoiding the beauties of this city for a biased rejudice will definitely do no good to make Naples a better and safer city. Admittedly, the new flux of tourists coming to Naples since the last couple of years or so has been profoundly beneficial. Naples is changing for the better and I hope this change will not stop soon because it’s a city with a lot to give.
The bottom line to the “is Naples safe?” question is: Naples is as safe as any other place. There is seriously no reason for you to be scared. Don’t show off your super expensive camera and belongings but be careful and always keep an eye on them. Venture into the more typical neighbourhoods not mentioned in the guidebooks with a local guide if you still feel not super comfortable to go by yourself. You have literally nothing to worry about. Use the same caution you would use in any other European city. Remember that, even if it’s not as big as Rome, Naples is still one of the biggest Italian cities in terms of population. Don’t let a widespread stereotype ruin your stay and prevent you from enjoying the best the city has to offer.