Naples

FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT NAPLES! THIS BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN CITY HAS A LOT TO SAY TO THOSE WHO LISTEN AND KNOW HOW TO LOOK AT IT.

Just before leaving Naples I realized that most of the images of Italy I had in my mind were of this city. Motorinos whizzing through narrow streets, laundry hung between houses, scrumptious pasta and pizza at every trattoria I pass… Naples is definitely the star of Italy. Since the shops were closed for siesta when I hit the streets at noon, working people and kids were lolling on the rocks along the coast. When I reached my first stop, the Castel dell’Ovo or Egg Castle, I learned that, according to legend, the reason the castle is still standing is an egg that lies embedded in its foundation. And when I climbed to its upper sections, the Mediterranean and the volcanic Mt. Vesuvius greeted me in all their majesty.

When I left the castle, the shops on the Via Chiaia were just opening up following siesta and the streets were thronged with motorinos coming from every direction, people starting to shop, people queuing up for ice cream and Neapolitans downing a coffee on the hoof in the cafes.

ALLIGATORS, GALLERIES AND PIZZA
I too started the next day with an espresso and a chocolate cornetto. Then, walking up from the Piazza della Vittoria through the narrow streets perpendicular to the coast, I came to the Piazza Dei Martiri, or Martyrs’ Square with lions, at the end of an avenue lined with the most prestigious Italian brands. The lions here represent Naples’ recovery after the Second World War. When I turned right at the end of the Via Chiaia, I found myself directly opposite the old Royal Palace. I trained my sights again on the 1729-built Castell dell’Ovo to get a better feel for the city’s history. According to a legend, the king at that time wanted to fill the moat around the castle with alligators. Still current today, this legend took on an element of truth when alligator skeletons were discovered nearby during excavations for the metro.

Continuing my stroll, I turned into the Via Toledo and encountered a long avenue closed to traffic. This avenue, where the shopping is hopping and a long walk as far as the Spanish Quarter awaited me, is of the sort to delight any shopper.

Stopping at the glass-domed Galleria Umberto, an architectural look-alike of Milan’s famous Galleria, is de rigueur for tourists.  Don’t be surprised if, after such luxury, you see baskets being dangled from apartment windows in the city’s back streets. For scenes like this, all but a thing of the past in Turkey today, are still a common occurrence in the streets of Naples.

When I got tired of walking, the city’s original pizzeria, founded in 1780, came to my rescue with palate-pleasing pizzas, bruschettas and other snacks. In its pizzerias alone, one can see that Naples has borne witness to history. With its warm, friendly people, its chaos, its legends and its magnificent landscapes, this is still one of Italy’s most irresistible cities.

Falling under Pompeii’s spell
Waiting impatiently for the day to go to the ancient city of Pompeii, this writer became aware of how mind-boggling the whole concept of time is while exploring the ruins of this 2,000-year-old settlement. However real and palpable everything is today, this ancient city brings home a realization that the lives now long gone here were once equally real. After Vesuvius erupted and leveled this magnificent city, burying it in a thick velvety layer of dust and lava, life froze exactly as it was at that instant. Exhibiting the same architecture as the famous Galleria in Milan, Galleria Umberto with its glass dome is a must-stop for tourists.

Just before leaving Naples I realized that most of the images of Italy I had in my mind were of this city. Motorinos whizzing through narrow streets, laundry hung between houses, scrumptious pasta and pizza at every trattoria I pass… Naples is definitely the star of Italy. Since the shops were closed for siesta when I hit the streets at noon, working people and kids were lolling on the rocks along the coast. When I reached my first stop, the Castel dell’Ovo or Egg Castle, I learned that, according to legend, the reason the castle is still standing is an egg that lies embedded in its foundation. And when I climbed to its upper sections, the Mediterranean and the volcanic Mt. Vesuvius greeted me in all their majesty.

When I left the castle, the shops on the Via Chiaia were just opening up following siesta and the streets were thronged with motorinos coming from every direction, people starting to shop, people queuing up for ice cream and Neapolitans downing a coffee on the hoof in the cafes.

ALLIGATORS, GALLERIES AND PIZZA
I too started the next day with an espresso and a chocolate cornetto. Then, walking up from the Piazza della Vittoria through the narrow streets perpendicular to the coast, I came to the Piazza Dei Martiri, or Martyrs’ Square with lions, at the end of an avenue lined with the most prestigious Italian brands. The lions here represent Naples’ recovery after the Second World War. When I turned right at the end of the Via Chiaia, I found myself directly opposite the old Royal Palace. I trained my sights again on the 1729-built Castell dell’Ovo to get a better feel for the city’s history. According to a legend, the king at that time wanted to fill the moat around the castle with alligators. Still current today, this legend took on an element of truth when alligator skeletons were discovered nearby during excavations for the metro.

Continuing my stroll, I turned into the Via Toledo and encountered a long avenue closed to traffic. This avenue, where the shopping is hopping and a long walk as far as the Spanish Quarter awaited me, is of the sort to delight any shopper.

Stopping at the glass-domed Galleria Umberto, an architectural look-alike of Milan’s famous Galleria, is de rigueur for tourists.  Don’t be surprised if, after such luxury, you see baskets being dangled from apartment windows in the city’s back streets. For scenes like this, all but a thing of the past in Turkey today, are still a common occurrence in the streets of Naples.

When I got tired of walking, the city’s original pizzeria, founded in 1780, came to my rescue with palate-pleasing pizzas, bruschettas and other snacks. In its pizzerias alone, one can see that Naples has borne witness to history. With its warm, friendly people, its chaos, its legends and its magnificent landscapes, this is still one of Italy’s most irresistible cities.