Friday, February 09, 2007

Napoli 2.04.07

Vietri sul Mare. Monday February 3, 2007

It's a gorgeous sunny day today. The light is brilliant reflecting off the sea outside our doors, which are wide open. The air feels cool and fresh with a slight breeze blowing. Our laundry is hanging on the line and on the drying rack. There are no clouds in the sky. An occasional car zooms by on the street below but other than that it's very quiet.

Yesterday, a Sunday, we spent in Napoli. We decided to take the car instead of the bus and park at the port, since the area we wanted to explore - Toledo and Castel Nuovo - were nearby. It has been our experience that traffic in this region is usually light on Sunday mornings and it only took us half an hour to get into the city. The parking lot next to the port where the ferries leave for Sicily and the islands of Capri, Ischia etc, was wide open and we felt safe leaving the car in a lot that has attendants and wandering the city by foot.

Each time I visit Naples I love it even more. Armed with our Eyewitness Guide and a walking-tour itinerary, we headed for Castel Nuovo, begun in 1279 by Charles I of Anjou and was built and rebuilt again in 1443. It is massive and impressive with its five rounded towers and fancy triumphal arch. It houses a museum that was unfortunately closed on Sundays but to which we would like to return.

This area is jam packed with impressive buildings and we walked through the nearly deserted Piazza Plebiscito with its Pantheon-inspired church of San Francesco di Paola and Palazzo Real. We looked up to see Castel St. Elmo above us and wandered through the beautiful shopping mall Galleria Umberto I, whose glass-domed ceilings fill this cavernous space with light. A "right to life" crowd was holding an event inside and everywhere young people and old were handing out flyers while a group of not-so-talented young girls danced on a stage set up in the center. Some of them surely must have their eyes set on a career in TV game shows. We will have to return when the shops are open and we can appreciate better the beauty of the space without being accosted by groups of fervent believers.

Across the street from the Galleria Umberto is the 18th century Teatro San Carlo and we could have taken a tour but decided to wait until Jessica comes in March. She will really appreciate seeing it.

We stopped for a coffee and a cornetto and a sfogliatelle (a delightful pastry filled with ricotta cheese) and admired the views of Mt. Vesuvius across the bay and the handsome young man who served us.

We walked through the famous Santa Lucia neighborhood to the Villa Comunale, the public park in the Chiaia neighborhood.

We had pizza at an Antica Pizzeria off Via Chiaia, the shopping street in this neighborhood and found ourselves back where we started, at the Piazza Plebiscito and Castel Nuovo, now lit with afternoon light, and headed back towards our car and home.

Yesterday was mostly a day for walking and getting acquainted with the area. It is one of Naples loveliest. And, as it was a Sunday, all the Napolitani were out enjoying the seaside and strolling along the Lungomare near Castel dell'Ovo, in all their stylish clothing, fine leather coats, boots and furs. We climbed around the castle again as we had done a little more than a year ago before our ferry left for Catania and the start of our six months in bella Sicilia.

It's so hard to believe we are now counting down to the end of our time in Italy. It hardly seems possible that two years have almost passed and we have very mixed emotions about leaving. On the one hand we are ready to go, to be "home" in our own country, speaking the same language as everyone else, spending time with our kids and granddaughter, our families and friends, going to the movies, exploring the east coast, which in reality is the start of a whole new adventure. But Italy. Italy with its ancient cities, breathtaking scenery, lovely people, fresh tomatoes, cheese and pasta, the pizza of Napoli (we are spoiled forever!)...the sea...the volcano...will remain forever in our hearts. Each place we have lived in has become a favorite for a different reason and each time, when the time grew near for us to say goodbye, we asked ourselves "How will we ever leave (Perugia...Marina di Vietri sul Mare)...???" The question remains unanswered.

Or answered simply "we will leave because we have to leave, because the time has come for us to leave. Because we look forward to what comes next. Because we continue to have a thirst for new adventures. But we will keep the old ones with us and they enrich us and fill us with joy and appreciation. There are still eight whole weeks in front of us and we plan on making the best of every one!

Thanks for coming along with us. We hope you've enjoyed what we have put in front of you and appreciate knowing you are out there.

Baci, baci,
Rosemary and Bob

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