June 10, 2010

Naples, Italy

Standing in front of the ticket machine in downtown Naples trying to decipher the “Itaglish” that popped up on the screen when we requested the instructions in English, we fumbled with change that for some reason continued to be rejected. As we rummaged for alternative money (realizing late a hastily made sign indicated the machine did not, in fact, take €2 coins) one and then another person handed us their metro cards.

The beauty of the transit system here is that the fare is timed…€1,10 (they use commas instead of periods) will get you 90 minutes. So instead of buying three cards we purchased one and finally we were on our way…sort of.

The destination was Pompeii and we had been attempting to get there all morning. our 9:30 alarm that roused us but did not pull us from the covers morphed into dwaddling showers. By then, close to noon, it was time to eat.

My domain.

So we scouted the guidebook and headed for a pizza joint everyone raves about. Of course en route we passed a duomo (church) that shana wanted to visit (she loves the architecture and the art) and stopped randomly to gawk at buildings that struck our fancy or to ask directions with a broad smile.

Triumphant, we arrived and ordered. Margarita and a four something or other. As it turns out, the four something or other is a pizza with four distinct sections: margarita; mushrooms; artichokes, olives, and ham; and eggplant; with a sprig of basil thrown in for flourish. I prefer my tastes to mingle and so I rearranged the pie so that each bite had a little of everything.

Not bad…not bad at all. And another tick on my “to eat” list.

Full, we headed for the metro and our original purpose for leaving that morn…err…afternoon…Pompeii.

The thing about the trains here is that there is the metro and the train and they are separate and yet they are related. You can ride them with the same ticket but they operate on separate track systems.

Finally getting the hang of the whole affair-or so we thought-we got off the train, boarded the metro and sat down satisfied. Only it turns out we were headed to the wrong station and were on the wrong train. Two kind people later we were finally on the right track and chatting amicably with a Spanish teacher from the bay who is visiting Italy as a chaperone for a high school trip.



I’m torn about such things…torn because in some ways I am ruined on ruins. There are only so many crumbling buildings and toppled columns I can get excited about. But more than that, conflicted about stomping through what is essentially a burial ground. People were entombed there. Caught unexpectedly in final repose.

But this is shana’s element. Her enthusiasm for this sort of thing rivals mine for the food. And so we wandered around in the late afternoon sun, imagining what all this lush landscape looked like before Vesuvius, looming large and beautiful in the distance, blew his top and still in an instant an entire city.

The daylight here is long; the sun setting closer to 9 then 8, so it was deceptively late as we headed back to naples. Dinner was calling us home and so we wandered our way to a restaurant. Pricier than we anticipated, surly waiter in the shadows, we savored lobster linguine with a sauce rich and velvety to the tongue-sweet to the palate, and steak with parmesan and arugula.

Back to the hotel there was Neapolitan rum cake (light and completely saturated with full bodied rum and a hint of something sweet – like cherries) and some sort of chocolate tart washed down with a helping of karaoke…a solo maiming of summertime and followed by a trio mutilation of ironic.

Sleep calls now…positano possibilities whispering in my ear…

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