#1 So. Italy, Sept. 20, 2006

Dear Everybody,

Napoli is a mess! Too many cars, too many people, too many churches, but WHATa mess—-so vibrant, so ‘who cares’, so colorful—I think it is one of the most interesting cities that I have ever visited. It’s definitely a stand out compared to Berlin, where I spent the last week in August attending a memorial picnic for a friend of mine who died a few months ago. Berlin is very nice, but ‘buttoned down’ by comparison. Then I spent two weeks in Tuscany where my son-in-law has a house in a tiny village. The atmosphere there was bucolic and tranquil, again contrasting with Naples.

I arrived Monday, having taken the train from Florence, changing trains in Rome with only five minutes—-yes, I made it by jumping on the first car and working my way back to car #8 in second class–which they now call ‘standard.’ The hostel that I picked over the internet is great. It has nice rooms (I had 3 male roommates), nice kitchen, offers a modest breakfast, and has CNN on TV so I finally got some news. Two of my roommates were young Taiwanese men, who left this morning, and another is a young Hollander who is working here and hence eats breakfast (EARLY) with me since he has to go to work. The hostel showers are terrible, though, as they are teeny weeny and spray water, which turns cold, all over the place.

The first morning I went on a walking tour of Napoli. Churches, churches, and more churches. I visited the ones listed on my tour, and then saw oodles more that weren’t even listed—some bigger than the next. And then there were oodles more that were closed and no longer functioning. And most of the churches in the central area are resting on medieval ruins which are resting on Roman ruins, which are resting on Greek ruins going back to 4th to 6th Century BC!

Some have excavated the ruins so one can visit them. It’s weird to see 2000 year old ovens, stores and roads. Of course my walking tour is often interrupted for stop-offs for taking photos, having a Cappuccino, etc.

On my walking tour I visited the cathedral and it was a special day.  Throngs of people (and two white horses) had gathered for a special mass to honor San Gennaro, their patron saint. There are vials of his blood in the cathedral (from 305 AD) and the believers say that twice a year the blood liquifies meaning that Naples will be saved from harm again this year.

I had lunch at a NICE restaurant that tried to cheat the persons at the next table, and then tried to cheat me. It’s ‘tourist beware’ in Napoli! So today I did the Napoli housewife thing and bought pasta provisions and nice Napoli white wine and made my lunch in the hostel kitchen.

The news on CNN about Thailand was mildly alarming—I have an airplane ticket to fly to Bangkok on January 8 on my way to Laos. Two years ago I bought a ticket to Sri Lanka two days before the szunami (now I can no longer spell that word) and several years ago I had planned to fly to London on 9/13—which didn’t go because of 9/11. I’m sure by January all will be cool in Thailand.

 

 

I expect to be in Naples for quite a few more days—there’s a lot to see here and one can easily take side trips to Pompeii, Herculeum, Capri and other places. So I’m glad I like this hostel—it’s beginning to seem like home. It’s just a few feet away from –what else?—a crumbling church.

Stay tuned—

Carol

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