The Neopolitans love their mopeds. There’s nothing that you can do, that can’t be done faster and more comfortably on a scooter, it seems. Even if that involves three or four of you cramming onto one rickety moped. Or balancing your toddler between your knees in the footwell so that he can just see over the handlebars. Or three teenage girls, chatting continuously over each other’s shoulders, none of whom were old enough to ride a scooter. Or the boy whose feet didn’t reach the ground who did an emergency U-turn on seeing a police car, taking out the fishmonger’s board on the crowded pavement in front of us, to much indulgent tutting from the other pedestrians. Or two parents unusually and very responsibly wearing helmets, with their babe-in-arms (helmetless, obviously) wedged between them. Or transporting several people dressed to the nines, clearly to a family Sunday lunch, carrying an enormous boxed panettone held out at right angles to the side.
All of these, and many more, we saw. Unfortunately they all move so fast that I couldn’t snatch a photo of them. Things get even more hairy when it rains, as not only do the scooters not slow down at all; they also put up their umbrellas. Makes complete sense, really!
I’d read horror stories about the traffic in Naples, and how you take your life in your hands when you step out the door. I didn’t find that to be so at all – you just have to very definitely occupy your space! If you are firm and sure in your movements and don’t leap out of anyone’s way, the traffic will flow around you like water. Before my daughter got used to it though, she had a moment of indecision when faced with a moped bearing down on her. She went to go one way then changed her mind and went the other way. That’s the only time I ever saw fear in the eyes of a Napoli driver!
The video isn’t great, but it’s a brief snapshot of typical Naples driving. Note the three people on a moped swerving round the indecisive car. For a much better (and very funny) video that totally sums up the spirit of Naples for me, watch the second video (not mine, sadly).