Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Napoli Milionaria!

I m in Italy for a week - mostly for my friend Paola's wedding in Milano next Saturday - but I've also taken the opportunity of a few days in Napoli to chill out a bit, drink some espresso, eat some ice cream and generally explore a city I've not visited before.

Things went badly to begin with as AirItalia saved me the trouble of getting mugged by managing to lose my luggage in transit and despite repeated phone calls and trips back and forth to the airport the only thing that can be said with any truth or certainty is that my bag is anywhere between Heathrow and here. Napoli is hot and not the best place to be without a change of clothes. I've entered hard and loose into bargaining for fake Calvin Kleins with the Ghanaian street traders around the station but I feel odd not having my own threads.

Although I m both suit and present less for the wedding I m refusing to let this get me down and have sent out an emergency SOS plea to my three friends in Milano, who hopefully will find me something sharp by Saturday...

Napoli though is fantastic. I spent yesterday wandering the streets, enjoying the everyday. The Neapolitans are full of life and fun but shrewd, there's not much money so people are incredibly resourceful. I was told that on the day that seat belts were introduced some of the street sellers made a mint by selling T Shirts with a black stripe across them, completely undetectable to the police.

Amongst my afternoon highlights was Sammartino's beautiful artistry of the veiled Christ in the Sanservo chapel and the sad routunda wheel in the old orphanage shown to me by Isabella who just happened to be standing near to it. Her English matched my Italian in being basically rubbish, but through signs and occasional luckily guessed words I managed to understand that until the 1980's the wheel was used to orphan children. The parents would place the child in the spinning chamber facing the street and turn them into the orphanage where a nun would receive them, date their arrival, bless and name them.

At the end of the day I had pizza... well not just any old pizza! It was incredible! The waiter told me it was due to the volcanic water in the dough and that nowhere else in the world should be allowed to sell them. I had my mouth full, but wouldn't have disagreed anyway!

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