Cook's Tourist's Handbook of 1884 declared this city ill-built, ill-paved, ill-lighted, ill-drained, ill-watched, ill-governed and ill-ventilated. It also said that it was perhaps the loveliest spot in Europe.
Lonely Planet's Italy describes the city as follows: Raucous, polluted, unruly, deafening and with so many of its majestic historical buildings grubby and crumbling, and says it has at least as much in common with Casablanca in Morocco or Egypt's Alexandria on the other side of the Mediterranean as with fellow Mediterranean ports such as Genoa, Marseilles or Barcelona. And, like the cities on the other side of the pond, it's glued together by the sheer zest and vitality of its inhabitants.
We know which city they're talking about, don't we - the city generally side-stepped by the more genteel kind of tourist bent on the safe, cultural delights of Rome and Florence, Venice and Verona.
Yes, Naples hit us like a sackful of hammers, and we loved it.