Chota

Chota

Friday, 24 June 2011

{postcards from italy~Naples I}

{via san biagio dei librai. All photos my own}

I arrived in Naples a couple of days ago and I felt right at home. I lived here for a few months while conducting doctoral research and the second time around it does indeed feel a bit like home. Naples is a very distinct city for Europe. The south, but in particular Naples, is very different from the pristine north. Here, things are a bit more chaotic, a bit more grubby, a bit more rough & well just a little crazy. If you can imagine a cross between Havana, Rome, & Lucknow, you'll get the idea. Rich in history, Naples was the seat of the great Neapolitan kingdom in the Renaissance. In the fifteenth century the Spanish Aragonese claimed Naples as their own, taking it over from the French, and it's always been a real mix of European and Italian culture.
The streets are narrow, filled with hanging laundry above, and dirty garbage below. If there are sidewalks they are usually full of goods spilling out from stores, or chairs spilling out from the apartments that line the street. So in general, you have to walk on the road, dodging cars and most commonly, minding whizzing and buzzing vespe (vespa in Italian means wasp, and they stay true to their name-you might just get stung if you don't move out of their way). While Florence is characterised by swanky Florentines in their fine dress on bicycles, Naples can be characterised by whizzing vespe. I now walk like a local, striding out in front of cars & dodging vespe, rather than sitting timidly waiting for a break in traffic, which rarely ever happens.
The streets are full of great markets--everything from lighters & ties, bikinis & socks,creche ornaments & fruit, to faux-LV bags and funky & stylish clothes. The streets stay buzzing late into the night and you'll have to get used to the noise of whizzing vehicles all night. You'll find few tourists here, especially in relation to Florence, where tourists outnumber true Florentines. Try to dress more like the locals--you'll be less of a target for pickpockets. Although, I find Naples much safer than the last time I was here-largely due to police crackdowns on petty crimes in attempts to stimulate tourism in Naples. Still, I don't stay out too late at night & try not to be too conspicuous. Like many other Italian cities, you'll get a lot of male attention if you're a woman, but in general, it's harmless--a little bit of leering and whisperings of 'bella!'
Even if you speak Italian you'll find it hard to understand people here. Most shopkeepers, taxi drivers etc...speak in Neapolitan dialect. It involves a lot of slurring, elisions, and strong hand gestures, and isn't easy to understand! Neapolitans are pretty friendly. Today I was sitting in the Archaeological museum resting for a sec and a curator came & sat with me & chatted about the collections. He thought I was from Rome (which I was very pleased about--one hates to look like a tourist) and we conversed about the museum's collections for a few minutes.
So what have I been up to so far? Well a lot of wandering...visiting sites I wrote my thesis on connected to the Aragonese and Diomede Carafa: Castel Nuovo, Monteoliveto, Carafa's palace, Museo Archaeological Nazionale etc... etc... I'm renting a flat in the Pizzofalcone area, near the Piazza Plebescito. It's in a different area than I stayed last time, but still right in the heart of historic Naples. No hotels nearby, just authentic Neapolitans everywhere you look. Here are some photos of my trip so far. 
{dinner at home with oh-so-delicious fresh ingredients}


{the important thing for italians is looking good-look at this classy man checking his mobile, leather briefcase in hand, & polishing his shoes. Europeans put effort in their dress, something usually lacking in N. America}

{seafood!}

{markets spill out on the streets}

{more seafood}

{the presepio street--Naples is well known for their hand-crafted figurines for creches, or nativity scenes (presepio in italian)}


{Vesuvius-view from atop the Castel Nuovo}

{me, totally at home, in my flat}

{shoes...}

{shoes...}

{& more shoes...}

{gelato anyone? I love this sleek new shop all in white & brown}
While there are numerous tantalising images, Naples is suffering from a garbage strike (which happens regularly). Not so pleasant are the smelly piles of garbage, rotting especially due to the very hot weather we're having. Full english story here.

I'm off to do some more exploring. I'll be taking an excursion tomorrow, just haven't decided where yet. Will post more soon. 
ciao for now, 
xo
L

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