We’ve started a new adventure in Napoli and the pics in this post will be just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a cute – while also gritty – city that seems to feel no compulsion to be like other cities.
You can’t even get an Uber here, or, for now, a Starbucks coffee. Imagine! It definitely feels like its own place. I’m probably imagining it but people seem grittier too, with more tattoos, more smoking, and louder voices.
Then there is a murderous volcano hovering over it all.
Here’s a great example of thinking of a new place in two-dimensions, then finding it in three, or maybe four or five. I was looking at the map of Napoli for weeks before arriving, plotting pizza restaurant recommendations and identifying the port from which you can sail to Capri. I ran my finger over a long bike lane that went from neighborhood to neighborhood, laterally across the edge of the coast.
Upon arrival, that whole vision of the place is upended. Nothing happens laterally across the coastal edge without a powerful engine or a tunnel. If there were more water here, I think it would look like the Norwegian Fjords. There are giant hills covered with tall apartment buildings and walled-in courtyards and endless shops and the odd castle or fortress. To get from one place to another you generally go under them, from one valley to the next. Our valley has a neighborhood called Fuorigrotta, where we live. Next valley over has Vomero and Chiaia, and passing into another valley (through another tunnel) you reach the historic downtown and Spanish Quarter.
I’m sure I’m not painting it oddly enough: I can’t show you these hills, because pictures sort of flatten it out. But think of this: At least half of the metro lines are funiculars – tramways.
Ramon has a built-in set of peeps at his office, but I’m still finding mine. Luckily, I have him – we have done a bang-up job of carousing through the neighborhoods, uphill and downhill, using all the different forms of public transport, and finding some fantastic spots.
I’ve somehow stumbled onto the cat vortex of Fuorigrotta, too.
Not all of them are so willing to be seen, however. Look closely at this first one:
Where’s the food, Keri?
Oh, alright – you want to see what it’s like to eat in Napoli? Hold on to your freakin’ hats:
Quick poll: can you guess which of the above pictures I cooked? Answers at the end of the post.1 I will also admit here that I made a fairly disgusting meal out of cod (did everyone else know you’re supposed to soak cod overnight before using it?) with a tomato broth, antipasti (not as bad), and a plum tarte (meh, I think I’m not really into tart dough, period.) But no pictures of it. Hey, I’m honest, not self-flagellating!
The pizza is sickeningly good. I mean I eat it till I feel sick – it’s so good. I can’t stop eating the chewy crust. Julia, we’ve finally met your source.
Other stuff I wanted to show you all include this picture of the prettiest plums I’ve ever seen:
And some vistas across the water or around the aforementioned hills, or at the beach about thirty minutes away:
And this one, of Ramon being very kind. I’m pretty sure this pose has never been repeated in nature – Ramon is not prone to letting dogs sit on him. But as it’s his friend’s pooch, Ramon just enjoyed it. Or at least did not shoo the dog away!
Thanks to Napoli for the warm welcome. I’ll keep this post short today… as I’m off for a walk on a beautiful fall day, my favorite type.
Answers to the pop quiz:
A, B or C: Thank you for your faith. But no. D: Yes! I did a salad. Mmmmm. Marinated tomatoes and chickpeas. E and F: I did not mix THESE exact aperol spritzes, but I did buy all the ingredients and made some aperol spritzes at home. Ramon really likes them. We just need ice! G: Ha ha hahhahahahaaa! Hahahah! You really ought to read this blog more! I could no more make those than I could be present at open-heart surgery. H: Yes! Bonus points. I: I wish! But I will sign up for a real pizzaiolo class here in Napoli. ↩︎