Once again, the always fearless Lawrence served as our guide, while Lawrence's brother, Robert, and Robert's husband, John, joined Dave and I on this adventure.
Last Friday morning, as we waited for our travel companions to arrive, a train strike threatened to wreck our day to Pompeii, as did the heat. So instead of going to Pompeii, Dave and I decided to tour the Museo di Capodimonte. This museum is a perfect example of the abundance of this city. The Capodimonte houses, among other treasures, Caravaggio's Flagellation, Parmigianino's Antea (below), Simone Martini's opulent St. Louis of Toulouse Crowning Robert of Anjou and Titian's Portrait of Pope Pius III.
This view from Via del Capodimonte reminds me of other forms of "visual plenty" I had seen the day before, and would continue to see the rest of our time in Naples. For example, this pasta shop, crechè vendor and pasticceria:
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And, yet this seemed to be part of the very fabric and character of the city.
What I've come to discover as I look back over my photos is the actual lack of images I took, especially on our last night when the camera was left at the hotel for safety reasons. We dined at this very nice (heels and a dress for me) seafood restaurant on the spur of land jutting furthest into the Bay of Naples. We sat outside on the restaurant patio on the harbor and had the best table in the place, and consequently in Naples. I faced roughly north and to my left the sun sank over the city, while to my right I could watch the color shifts on Mount Vesuvius, which far from threatening, served only as an earthen canvas for the shifting colors of the sunset. The food, unfortunately was average, but the siting and sights more than made up for it.
Afterwards, not a single cab could be located in the craziness that is a Neapolitan weekend night. As a result we all walked from the restaurant, in the posh part of Naples to our hotel in the old city center. (Thankfully I came prepared with a change of practical shoes!) In 50 minutes I saw young toughs drinking and partying in a church piazza, cars stopped in the outermost lane of a major, divided 8 lane street while it's occupants bought and ate (right there!) food from a little food stand. I saw the worst, abject poverty I have witnessed in my life, and then 3 blocks later Italian children bouncing around in a "jump-in-play" at midnight. We saw the majestic old castle and fort and the new construction around it for a modern subway stop. The clash of opposites the whole way was disturbing...and again, fascinating. This was business as usual in Naples and to my mind, surreal, and at times, sad.
Naples put things in perspective for us, and suddenly the whizzing Vespas or the crowded sidewalks of Florence seemed much more gentile, even welcoming. That's what Naples cemented for me, my love of Florence and an important perspective that only travel can provide.