lurked in the Quarter just streets away. Teaming with foot-bound activity, interrupted by the occasional whiz of a Vespa that seemed to only add to its seeming narrowness, this is a relatively poor area with considerable unemployment, a reality of Naples in the extreme. Crime reportedly thrives here and though inviting in itself, especially to someone like me eager to dive into its muddled clamor, it is best to exercise caution. It has the unsought distinction of having one of highest youth crime rates in all of Europe. Still I would have liked to have tarried long enough to tromp along its lanes. For a beat, I considered it ... to have been able to examine the street corner shrines, neighborhood boundaries more or less, possibly gang territorial boundaries too, here delineated by saints, that I suspected would be ensconced here and there on the streets. To have stopped for a stand-up coffee in some non-descript café or gone into a shop or two to possibly sense if these people, the Quarter’s inhabitants, were somehow different from those only yards away on Toledo. Maybe I was outrunning my imagination here, it's easy to, but I yearned to see more than shaded glimpses down laundry draped lanes. Stefania is a teacher, a French teacher in fact. Hers is a situation where annually she is posted to a new school. For the upcoming school year she told us she'd been assigned to teach in a school somewhere in the bowels of the Spanish Quarter. Beauty and beast clearly lived and worked side by side in Naples.
on either side. The contrast between the hustle outside and the shadowy interior, solemnly bathed in candlelight, were worlds apart. In the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows we saw the much revered Statua della Madonna Addolorata (Statue of the Madonna of Sorrows), considered to have miraculous powers. She stood in a columned niche high above the main altar shrouded in an ornate black cape. Above her head Latin words translated to announce, Here is Your Mother. Her sorrow was evident from the pained look on her face ... a vacant expression, parted lips, her eyebrows raised as though startled. The cause of her anguish were the seven daggers that pierced her heart, symbolic of the seven sorrows of Mary. It was thus in a more contemplative, though thoroughly cooled state, that we returned to the streets.
to a bygone era, we relaxed outside to the impeccable service of their wait-staff, cool drinks and tantalizing stuzzichini snacks. It's that kind of place where everyone watches or is being watched. As Maria Elena and Stefania nibbled and chatted, I tried my hand as voyeur, since so many passersby were trying their best to be seen. The hard part was imagining a story to go with each perceived persona ... for the flamboyant overly tattooed and pierced group of teens; a woman capped with a fascinating fascinator, tipped almost enough to fall away; the impeccably dressed elderly gentleman moving along like Alice in Wonderland's rabbit clutching his briefcase; the hidden eyes behind so many sunglasses, and on and on. Imagining their stories, it was difficult to pull myself away from this urban theater intermezzo but there was still so much more of pulsating Naples that Stefania wanted us to experience.
newspapers. It deposited us on the shore convenient to Castle dell'Ovo (once a villa, fort, monastery, prison), today the oldest fortification in Naples. The castle was built by Roger the Norman in the 12th century, while the current castle was brought to life by the Spanish in the 15th century. Its name originates in legend. The myth recounts how the Roman poet Virgil, also thought a sorcerer, placed a magical egg in a glass jar, inserted it into a metal cage, and then buried it somewhere in the foundation. Had this egg been broken, a series of disastrous events would befall the city. As this historical contingency purported, as went the egg, so went Naples! The problem with the legend is that Virgil lived long before Castel dell’Ovo was actually a castle. But such is the stuff upon which myth is built, though doubtfully castles. Today, Castel dell’Ovo houses the Museum of Prehistory used for events and exhibitions.
its cliff-like shorefront, were a number of restaurants, specializing in what else but seafood. The Zi Teresa's swordfish and the La Bersagliera for an alfresco dining interlude are definitely worth a return for a closer look. Also of note, on the castle island adjacent to the bobbing boats in the marina rose the Transatlantico restaurant, great for some white wine and grilled calamari. Next door, sup and take-in sigh-making views of luxury yachts with Mount Vesuvius as a backdrop from La Scialappa,. No need to stick to my recommendations, their menus overflow with delights from the depths of Neptune's realm.
Constructed in 1995, this complex is a collection of skyscrapers and high-rise office buildings that take up about a square kilometer of Naples. He walked across the plaza and joined us outside of Ristaranti Ciro. I had a good feeling about the place even before we entered. Inside we discovered that its delights extend from a wood-fired pizza oven, surprising to discover operating this time of day, to a quintessential seafood eatery set in a modern decor accented with white tablecloths, white chairs, white walls, white shutters, white tiles, white, white, white ... white classy Neapolitan soul.
restaurant had been therapeutic and lessened our discomfort, as far into our years as we'd come, we were still tired. When all was said and done, especially with our tummies full, all we could imagine doing was to start our trek back to Calitri. We had exceeded our use-by-date, at least for that day. I suspect this disappointed Stefania, who'd planned to show us more of the city but recognized that we were beat. Our farewells concluded, she was kind enough, as a goodbye gesture, to drive us to the airport to retrieve our car.