Is Naples a dangerous city?

There aren't many cities in Italy that are as clichéd and prejudiced as Naples.
Napoli
StockSnap (Pixabay)

To be afraid or not to be afraid?

Since the news these days is all about bad things, the only thing most people know about this particular city is that something suspicious often happens there. That’s why Naples lives on in the minds of many as a “dangerous” city, and if they happen to be planning a trip there, they ask if they should be afraid. If you’ve the same question and want a short answer, I say don’t. If you want a more detailed answer, read below.

Napoli
Janko Juric (Pexels)

Avoid trouble

Naples is a big city and also a densely populated one, especially in the historic centre. So it’s almost natural that, unfortunately, there’s crime here, just like elsewhere. So why do many people think Naples is more dangerous than other big cities? I think there are two main reasons.

The first is that street thieves are more “visible” than in other cities, which means that such crimes are more noticeable. While thieves in other places try to reach into our pockets as inconspicuously as possible, especially on public transport, and relieve us of our valuables, the method in Naples is quite different. The thieves on the run, often on motorbikes, usually try to snatch the bag or flashy jewellery from the unsuspecting passer-by as quickly as possible, then disappear around the first corner at record speed. As scary as this may sound, you can ward off such attacks relatively easily with the best known method: prevention.

As we often say, “use your head” – that’s something to keep in mind in Naples.

  • Take the city with the right bag

In my experience, a crossbody bag is best because it can’t be snatched off easily and thieves will look for easier prey rather than deal with you.

  • Don’t take anything valuable with you

The basic rule of “don’t carry anything that can be snatched away from you” can be extended to jewellery and other items. For example, it’s completely unnecessary to wear a flashy, ostentatious gold necklace while sightseeing and then be surprised when it attracts unwanted attention.

  • Take out your phone/camera only when you’re actually using it

The same goes for other valuables. It often happens that in rather deserted streets, the locals themselves warn you not to put your expensive camera hanging around your neck in your pocket. Of course, it doesn’t take much explaining why you shouldn’t hang a video camera on your little finger or carry a mobile phone in your hand.

  • Take only what you really need on the day

It’s better to leave everything you can in your accommodation and only take as much money as you really need for sightseeing that day. If you follow these few basic rules, you won’t be labelled a victim and you can enjoy the city instead of worrying about it.

Napoli
Napoli

The camorra

Another fear is the presence of local organised crime. Yes, there’s organised crime in Naples (camorra is the name of the organisation), but it hardly affects tourists sightseeing (unless they want to deal drugs). The rival clans are mainly active in the suburbs, with the Forcella district in the interior of the city being the most active. But these types of criminals have nothing to do with each other at most, it’s enough if you avoid suspicious-looking people on the street. So if you want to go to Naples, don’t hesitate, you won’t have to deal with the camorra.

Napoli

No-go zones?

Another observation: in several guidebooks and descriptions, tourists are warned about certain places that are considered dangerous, and they're warned not to set foot in the densely populated streets (vicoli) of the city centre (Quartieri spagnoli or Sanità neighbourhoods are usually given as examples of deterrents). Like most generalisations, this one doesn't hold water. Of course, I don't want to encourage anyone to get lost in unfamiliar narrow streets, and it's of course worth avoiding suspicious-looking guys on dark corners. I just want to say that at least some of the vicoli that branch off from the main streets are definitely part of the city's unique atmosphere, and that it's particularly interesting to have a look at the lives of the people who live there (usually on the street or behind an open door).

Neapolitans are nice and friendly

To sum up: in Naples, most people are like you and me - they live their own lives and don't want to hurt anyone. In fact, most locals are very nice and happy to help tourists, so it's worth talking to them. In short, you don't have to think you're walking among criminals - do everything you can to avoid potential trouble and enjoy your trip to Naples.

Napoli
Jad Limcaco (Unsplash)

The “dangerous” Naples

And now just watch this funny video about Naples and how appearances can be deceiving.

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