The Anonymous Widower


It was then north to Naples.

I love Naples, despite getting mugged in the city on this trip.  On a previous trip, I described it as a glorious dump.

Naples is a dump. A glorious dump!

It’s as though everybody has sent their leftovers and rubbish to the city.  I know they are still going through the end of a dustmen’s strike or something like that, but there are full bins and rubbish beside them everywhere.

Take the transport system, which actually works extremely well. They have standard buses, bendy buses, electric buses, trolley buses, trams, underground trains, surface commuter trains and funiculars. 

I can’t think of anything else that they might want, except for boats.  But then they do have ferries to Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and other islands, as well as much further afield.

So the city is a transport enthusiast’s delight.

They are also building a new SudMetro to close a gap in the system.  According to the signs they started in 2001 and aim to finish in 2012.  That makes CrossRail in London look speedy.

I’ve said that signage and maps are good, but not always.

I wanted to get on the trains at Dante, which is one of the central stations.  I thought the station might be the one I wanted, but all it had was a large M. Only when I got on the train was I sure I’d got the right station. 

But it all adds to life’s rich pattern.

Now I said Naples was a glorious dump, but it still has all of the good Italian shops and an awful lot of little ones with a Neapolitan slant and they are all such a contrast to get inside compared to the chaos outside.

But I like the city.

If I ever wanted to learn Italian properly and perhaps combine that with the cooking course I need, then I’d do it in Naples.  It would probably be Italian with a harder edge.

This reminds me that perhaps when I was 18 or 19, I was hitching home to Felixstowe from London and got a lift from an sergeant in the Royal Corps of Transport, who was helping to run the TA in Ipswich.  His previous posting had been in Marseilles Docks, where an officer, a sergeant and a few squaddies, helped to unload and chaperone the British Troops who used to exercise on the Lodève plateau.

As befits the Army, they’d sent him on a basic course in French, but he’d really learnt the language in the hardest docks in France.  With his large size, powerful build and close cropped hair, he was not a man with whom you would pick an argument.

One day he shared the driving with the officer to Paris for a meeting with the French Ministry of Defence.  His appearance and his French meant that when he asked in a bar for a drink, the owner thought the Marseilles version of the Mafia had come to collect their money.

Let’s say that it all ended well.

Note the picture of the sign at the Stazione Toledo.

I also wrote this about the backstreets of Naples.

Was it Peter Sarstedt, who wrote the Backstreets of Naples, with the line, “Where did you go to my lovely?”?  (Should that sentence have a double question mark?  My father would have known.) 

I’d been singing the song and asking that question of myself and about my late wife, as I’d been meandering through those backstreets, in what is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.

The streets may be dirty, graffiti-strewn, covered in rubbish and blighted by parked cars, but they are alive. 

And at the moment that is important to me.

You can call me boring, but I’ve just seen three working Heidelbergs, including two at once!  So now we know what happens to them!  One I suspect was even older than me!

But the shops are more interesting in a way than Florence or Venice as they sell different things that may or may not be aimed at tourists like me.  I have bought a few little presents of paper and clips that I thought simple and sweet.  They also fit into my limited luggage space!

In the middle of it all is the Duomo, which is magnificent in a light marble, with all of the usual art and total excess.  But why oh why, do they have electric candles where you put money in a slot and a light goes on?  Now that is really tacky and not worthy of the rest of the cathedral.

But I also bought a cappuccino for a euro in a little cafe in those back streets.  It was delicious.

Naples is a World Heritage Site.

June 11, 2009 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] caught my eye on the BBC’s web site, as I like a nice pizza and haven’t had one since Naples, a few years […]

    Pingback by Nutritional Pizzas « The Anonymous Widower | July 2, 2012 | Reply

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