Friday, 1 August 2014

The Italian Job:Naples

*Most of my blog readers will know of our travels in Italy, an amazing experience.  Today I have a guest blogger, none other than my long suffering husband G, who makes his debut into blogging, and will tell you his thoughts so far. Enjoy!

This is my 5th trip to Italy; once with my parents and brother when I was 3, where I managed to get lost on a beach for 2hrs before wandering into a red cross station... (my poor mother),  twice to ski with my school (poor teachers), once with my own family + my parents (poor me £) and now this latest and greatest adventure of which you have been reading on my Wife’s blog which she has kindly allowed me to 'bomb' just this once.  

So apologies in advance to all of Ruth’s loyal lady fans because it's going to get blokeish for a bit, which should be a relief to your husbands who will feel a little less furtive as they peer over your shoulders:)

As I sit here staring across the bay of Naples to Vesuvius at the start of 10 days of ultra chill, with a gallon (yep) of local plonk to keep me company, it's as good a time as any to reflect (whilst my fingers and brain still work) on what has so far been an inspirational tour.
pop up shop in Naples

I love these types of trips on many levels.  I'm discovering new things, I'm with my fab Wife and family but I'm also on a junior stag trip with my 3 growing lads all of whom I am quietly grooming in the dark arts of laddism under the Lady’s withering gaze. 

Driving has been fine and something I really enjoy. 4 tanks of fuel so far; glaciers, mountains, tunnels, cities, countryside, coastline and now volcanoes.  What's not to enjoy?  The car with roof box has done well (not going to work when Middle Son and Little Man join 6'+ No. 1 son but OK for now), despite our much publicised electrical mishap :) (erindoors neglected to mention that I'd had the sad foresight to buy spare fuses - oh yeah).  I have driven in Italy before but must have blanked out the memory of in town / city driving where junction etiquette is more a matter of country dancing than teutonic, deferential observance.

Financially, it ain’t cheap with the killer cost being food.  There's only so many ham and cheese rolls my family will stomach, so pretty much every day we have supplented such fare with an ϵ150 meal.  Oh yes; and Tourist Tax in every city we visit, plus endless toll road to win friends... Beer kills the pain and on that note I am pleased to say that I have discovered an incredible series of bottled brews, complete with sediment that I will be looking up on my return.  Italy is getting into the micro brewery business and with typical style.

Up next we have a boat trip, a volcano tour + Pompeii, lots of relaxing, then Pisa, Dolce Aqua, Lyon, Calais, home.

streets in Naples hold many secrets
But of all the places so far, all of which I have loved it's been Napoli which has surprised me most and what has inspired me to put thumb to screen.  Dijon was pretty, Milan did in fairness have more 10/10 ladies (and men, my Wife tells me) per square meter than any place on earth, Verona more than hinted at the Roman greatness to come, Venice was awesome in its incredulity and Rome bundled the whole lot together with the added sublime magnificence of history’s greatest artists.
Naples is an ugly mess.  It's a beautiful, sexy mess.  Men of my generation will remember those grossly disappointing and diminutive fireworks labelled Vesuvius Eruption - it's not like those. 

This lady's house is built on an old roman theatre
At first glance Napoli is a shanty town with an interesting old quarter (rather like Warsaw if you've been). The guide books try to be positive but all feel obliged to advise visitors to beware at night.  The omnipresent graffitti hints at the Bronx, the external wiring suggests a temporary, post apocalyptic world where only today matters. Flagstone roads, suicidal scooter riders, masses of students from the 3 universities, rubbish on streets, shops selling everything including tiny outlets offering modelled 'cribs'.  Tourist signage that sucks as if to say 'find it yourself if you're that bothered'.  We saw amazing marble sculptures and some of the miles of tunnels used over the years to hide, attack, preserve and protect the people of this place. 

Vesuvius - the slumbering giant - a view from our villa
Mafia, war, civil war, volcanic eruptions; all have smashed this City into what it is, and isn't.  But as I sit here now and gaze at Napoli from without it all makes sense.  The City simply refuses to kneel before the slumbering giant and its inevitable wrath.  Vesuvius will have its day at some point but until that time Neapolitans will continue to live for the moment and offer a not too respectful 'ciao' to their sleeping mountain.

Now, where's the vino.