The reputation of Italy is that the further south of Rome you get, the poorer, more corrupt and crime-ridden it is. There´s certainly a lot of scuminess around, but also plenty of gems. Take Naples. There are some of the ugliest decaying apartment blocks you´ll see outside of Cambodia. There´s an air of dodginess around the train station. There´s the murder rate, easily the highest in the country. But there are also plenty of elegant apartment blocks, spectacular state and religious buildings, a superb ancient history museum and real buzz in the air at night.
Then there was the day we spent trying to get to the famous Greek ruins of Paestum. We started off in lovely Sorrento, which is perched on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, then took a graffiti-covered Circumvesuviana train to our accommodation near Pompeii. Unfortunately, turns out near is a relative term. We were actually in Scafarti, a non-too-nice town next to Pompeii. To get to our b&b we had to trek from the train station, with its distinctive spraypaint, rubbish and concrete decor, in our backpacks down a busy road with no footpaths.
And, maybe best of all, the pizza place down the road from the b&b was sensationally cheap and sensationally good. So at the end of the day, like Southern Italy as a whole, the highs definitely outnumbered the lows.
All for just two Euros and fifty cents