Naples is one of the more interesting cities in Italy. It does have all those things its detractors say it has: masterful pickpockets, organized crime making a fortune off hiding garbage in plain sight, recalcitrant kids who have the audacity to kick soccer balls across the gorgeous, polished floors of historic buildings like the Galleria Umberto I, part of Naple’s UNESCO heritage. Yeah, dangerous. Like any city.
Any frequent traveler to Italy will notice a correlation between the real or imagined dangers and the soul-fulfilling thrill of the cities and byways of the boot. You buy a neck pouch for your docs and money, you make your way gingerly around the anything that looks like trash, and then you enjoy the archaeological museum, tittering conspiratorially over “The Secret Room” and the pornographic artifacts we think of as modern but which have enhanced the world since the cave paintings at Lascaux. Have dinner overlooking the harbor. Get your kicks from Titian at the Galleria Nazionale, one of the finest art collections in a country brimming with them. Go underground and enjoy the Catacombs of San Gennaro. Have a pizza to die for. Watch people.
Oh, wait, we were complaining about, you know, the dangers. Here are some.
Fellini wrote about those big veals, the boys between childhood and adulthood, testing the world to see how it will react to them. Highly dangerous. They should be chaperoned, and not by a ghost boat on the horizon dangerously near the egg castle.
Would you eat fresh mussels while sitting at a wobbly table on the edge of the sea while staring at the dangerously-close-to-erupting Vesuvius? Goodness, the danger! (If you’ve never had the famous “Mussel Soup” from Naples you haven’t lived, culinarily speaking…)
Bloodthirsty Naples fisherpersons murder their seafood and cook it with a lust usually reserved for a night of pole dancing and a pocketful of Viagra. Restaurateurs try to cover up the dismal grit of the city by dumping the many-legged creatures in their saute pans onto plates that reek of sunny happiness and for prices so low you will suspect that something fishy is going on. But we know the truth, eh? And that pasta shape? It’s called Paccheri. It was a really big macaroni that you could smuggle garlic inside and take it to Austria which didn’t have garlic as tasty as the stuff from southern Italy. No kidding. Everything is about breaking the law in Naples. Even your pasta!
Then there’s the egg castle, Castel dell’Ovo. Virgil, the Italian poet, hid a magic egg in the foundations. If broken, the castle would self-destruct and there’d be a series of disastrous events in Naples. Perhaps the egg finally broke. The yachts don’t seem to have a clue.
And finally, ask anyone where to go for coffee and the name “Gambrinus” will probably pop up. Well now, where do you think decadent Oscar Wilde thought to go when he was released from prison? Naples. And where did he have his caffe for the next 10 years? The Gran Caffè Gambrinus.
Just look at it:
I hope I’ve convinced you of the radical dangers of Naples and you’ll be as excited as I am to plan a trip there.