Vedi Napoli e poi muori*


We arrived by train from Sorrento late in the morning and made our way to the cathedral, only to be chased out after 15 minutes by the custodian. The churches in Naples close between noon and 4 PM. Since we’d planned to catch the train back to Sorrento at around four, that ruled out church visits. We decided to plan the afternoon over lunch.

Given the short amount of time we had, we decided that a tour on the open-top double-decker tourist bus would be best. We’d cover much more ground than under our own steam. The bus stops at points of major interest, and the last-but-one stop was close to the station, which was very convenient.

Naples, I think, must be city that takes getting to know—unlike, say, Venice, which captivates immediately. I’ve read that Naples is magnificent and have friends who love the city, but the little I saw disappointed me.

We felt perfectly safe—aside from the traffic, which doesn’t stop for pedestrian crossings but simply weaves around those crossing the road—but as we were walking towards the station to catch the train, something odd happened.

A trio of children of about 11 started following us. They weren’t street urchins. They were well-dressed (possibly even in school uniform), on their way home from school. The ringleader kept at us, “Scusi, signora. Scusi signore.” I ignored him because I knew from experience that if I turned round and told him to get lost, he’d start imitating me and would be even more persistent. After about half a block, he came closer, slapped me quite hard on the back of the head, and then all three little monsters ran off laughing. I wasn’t hurt, but I was taken completely by surprise.

Something similar happened to a friend of mine in Florence several years ago: She told a little girl who was begging to leave her alone, and the child hit her and ran away. It’s something you don’t anticipate. In England or the United States, young kids might give you lip, but they wouldn’t hit an adult.
*See Naples and die, a phrase attributed to various people, including Goethe.


3 Responses to Vedi Napoli e poi muori*

  1. Elisabeth says:

    This photo is purely magnificent. I barely know Italy, and need to spend time there very soon.

  2. passante says:

    Thank you, Elisabeth. What a lovely thing to say. When you go to Italy, I think you shouldn’t start with Naples. Florence and Venice would be my recommendations.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    And those are the two cities I truly want to see.

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