“Are you serious? You visited a McDonalds while you were Naples? You do know that Naples is the ‘motherland’ of pizza, right? You do know that Italy is internationally renowned for it’s gourmet cuisine and fine wine?” You shake your head in disgust and wonder how could I have committed such a blasphemous and sacrilegious act. You mull it over even more and shout out “The slow food movement originated there! How could you?” You think it’s almost as bad as buying a coffee from Star Bucks while you’re in Vienna with famous cafes like Demel at your disposal.
I agree, but unfortunately it’s true. You read my subject line correctly. I did go to a McDonalds when I was in Naples back in September 2010. I hang my head in shame. I’m embarrassed.
Yet, before you cast judgment, let me tell you what happened …
The day began with me waking up in a fairy tale like villa in the small medieval town of Soriano Nel Cimino, Italy.
I was actually staying there as I was taking part in a 4 day long food/wine focused tour with Culture Discovery that included cooking classes, wine tastings, home cooked meals made by locals and excursions to Tuscany and Umbria. This dream-come-true experience was what made me decide to come to Italy in the first place, in fact my entire vacation was centered around that tour. While my times in Rome and the Amalfi Coast were very lovely, they paled in comparison to my time in Soriano. The way to my heart is very clearly through wine and food.
Do you have a little more respect for me now? Can you see that I am not really a McDonalds type? I used to be when I was younger but my taste in food and drink has matured and become more sophisticated in recent years. At least I’d like to think so!
On a side note, do you like these photos? Would such a tour delight you as it did me? If you’re “feeling it”, I highly encourage you to visit the Culture Discovery web site and think about taking a vacation with them. It’s not something you’ll regret, trust me.
That morning we had our final cooking class which culminated with the group having a farewell lunch together, eating the delicious food we cooked earlier.
Later on, we were dropped off at the closest train station in Orte, where we parted ways and continued on with our respective journeys. I was headed to Naples, where a driver would be waiting to take me further South to Positano, a picturesque town on the Amalfi Coast.
After almost having my luggage stolen in Rome and receiving further coaching as how not to be an “obvious tourist” (my favorite tip is not sport fanny packs), I was ready for the long 5 hour train ride down to Naples. I felt like a professional, ready for anything, a seasoned veteran of travel who couldn’t be conned. No one was going to come close to stealing my luggage this time, no one! Since then, I’ve even penned a rather humorous blog post offering advice about how to experience stress free train travel while in Italy.
I boarded the train, resolved to not leave my luggage in the storage areas provided at the end of each car. People can easily make off with your belongings if you’re not watching! I dragged my mammoth, heavy suitcase along with me to my seat. Apparently a trip to Italy required me bringing my entire wardrobe and six pairs of shoes (a pair of converse, ballet flats, boots, strappy high heel sandals etc.) Yes, I’m a notorious over-packer and a tad high-maintenance.
For the duration of the ride, I didn’t move from my seat. Not even when I had to go to the bathroom. I was not about to leave my luggage unattended. Like Fox Mulder, I trusted no one.
By the time I arrived in Naples, I was dying. I really had to go. My plans were to hand the driver my luggage and ask him to wait. While I am not a fan of public bathrooms in general, there was no way I could wait until we reached Positano, which was approximately a 90 minute drive away.
The driver told me the bathrooms in the station were gross and advised me not to use them. He smiled and said “Go into McDonalds. They keep the bathroom clean for the tourists.”
This is how I came to visit a McDonalds in Naples. I didn’t go there to eat a meal. I wasn’t trying to be cool, Pulp Fiction style and find out what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Italy. I went to McDonalds to use the bathroom.
I dashed inside and headed straight for the toilets. The door was locked. I couldn’t get in. A security guard informed me that I needed to enter a special code in gain access to the bathroom. He instructed me to proceed to the ordering counter to obtain the code. With him standing there, I couldn’t even sneak in with someone else.
Curious as to why there was a security guard in a place frequented by children and families, but too desperate to give it further thought, I got in line. Minutes dragged. Of course the place was super busy. Finally, I was at the front of the line and I asked for the “secret” code. I was told I needed to buy something.
What? Seriously? There was no way that I was going to buy food from McDonalds while I was in Italy. First of all, I have principles and second of all, I had plans for a seaside dinner in Positano and wasn’t about to spoil my appetite.
So, I ordered a drink. I received a small, tiny, little bottle of Tropicana orange juice which cost me €4, equaling approximately $5.25 Canadian. For this price, I could have bought an entire carton at home. I was amazed. I had just paid over $5 Canadian for the privilege of going to the bathroom.
I ran off to the bathroom, punched in a complicated 5-6 digit code and found relief! Phew.
Well, there you have it, my bad girl confession about how I came to visit a McDonalds in Naples. Was I duped? Did I really need to buy something in order to gain admittence? Perhaps. Yet, I’d do it all again. Do you have a similar confession to share? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your humorous tale!