Account by Alison Serrelle-Cooke on her family’s posting to Naples:

When my husband came and asked, “what about a posting to NATO Naples?” my reply was, “we never get postings like that” and now 18 months later we are making the very best of the opportunities that Naples has to offer. We can easily be in Naples centre or climbing Vesuvius within an hour and the Amalfi coast is 90mins drive. It all sounds idyllic, and it can be, but this is not an easy posting with challenges and for many it wouldn’t be the right choice.

Preparing for our posting

While we don’t all like social media, having contact before we arrived with people already here was a great bonus. There is also a UK Community Facebook page, which we found really useful. Since we arrived the use of Defence Connect here has expanded exponentially, providing much needed communications for Service personnel.

A couple of months before we arrived we were allocated a sponsor; someone who was out here and assisted with all the admin that we had to complete and of course answer all the questions we had.

Employment opportunities for partners is limited

There are a few places where you can work within the British Community; and some people prefer to have a job share, which gives them more flexibility. While I have been fortunate to secure a job in the British Forces School, working in the school office, you should be prepared in case you cannot not find any work.

The accommodation

Many of the houses are large, some with basements, bathrooms on all levels and room to entertain. Housing and single accommodation is managed locally by DIO, who rent the properties from the local economy. Many properties are old and tired often requiring maintenance, which can be a frustration. Repairs can be done quickly, but regrettably this is not always the case especially where the owner is responsible for getting the work done. Generally, we have had few issues, but we know others who have had more than their share of challenges.

Initially we were isolated in a house away from the main British community in a property that was far from ideal for us. Our request to move was supported (not all are) and we were able to move after six months. Now we are lucky to be on a Parco (a group of houses in a secure compound behind an electric gate), within a UK community. As a bonus there is even a small pool.

Shopping locally

Once settled someone will show you where to shop. Local supermarkets, fish markets and the US Navy NEX and of course Naples. I love the fresh local produce that tastes delicious – fresh buffalo mozzarella and Vesuvius tomatoes and of course I have to mention Neapolitan pizza. But remember fresh items do not last as long as from a UK supermarket.

Adjusting to a different culture

Security can be an issue, and we always secure shutters and lock the house before going out. Equally we leave nothing in our car and quickly learned where to avoid when parking; sadly, there is some crime here, and you have to adjust for this.

Family/ community life

We have teenagers, who are back at school in the UK. We are lucky that there are a few other families with teenagers, which means they have been able to make friends and really enjoy their holidays.

The British Community here is small and as with many overseas postings the social life is amazing. While we have only managed a couple of formal dinners since we have been here, there are plenty of other opportunities in local restaurants, the beach or with new friends.

Article originally published in Envoy Autumn edition, 2021.