A Good Day in Naples
Briskly up in the morning and off to Naples by train. Only 4.5 euro each and 13 stops later, and we arrived in the seat of Italian humanity! Wow, Naples is a living city, it throbs with activity, clamorous noise, vibrant rustling colors and aromatic scents enough to fire up your olfactory senses. Naturally, upon arriving at Montesonto Station, we found a bar and bellied up for a cappuccino and corneta. It’s just the perfect elixir to begin any exploration.
Naples is not quite what we expected. You always hear horror stories of how you have to watch out for pickpockets, other criminal activity and dirty streets. While this may be so, it’s an unfortunate stereotype for an energetic and spirited series of communities. We walked as many of them (about 10 miles worth) as we could while gawking at all the sites and shops and laundry across the alleys. While most of the buildings are dilapidated, and in dire need of a paint job, it looks like they’ve taking serious strides in cleaning up the streets and alleyways. Naples is an enchanting place with many charming characteristics. We could easily see ourselves living downtown for six months or so….if only I could. There are so many hidden, out of the way places that don’t make it to the tourist books and maps that it’s not worth using them. Just amble anywhere, and there’s plenty to do and experience.
Shopping is the quintessential activity in Naples, and we did our part to fulfill the city’s commerces activity quota for the day. Our Booty was one leather dress, some leather walking shoes, and more food than we should have eaten. Finally, we did the Museum thing at the National Archeological Museum. After visiting a million and one museums, this was one of them. But, there were a few highlights to remember. First is the series of fresco wall art, the most famous of which is the 10 foot by a 5-foot decrepit fresco of Alexander the Great conquering the king of Persia. It’s a renowned fresco, one featured whenever there’s a visual representation of Alexander. Some of the other frescos are so detailed with slivers of rock that from a distance, they appear to be paintings. There are even frescoes columns as colorful as a movie set. The other highlight is the army of marble statues. Yeah, there are lots of them around the country, but I guess this museum got to pick the cream of the crop. Most of these have their heads connected to their bodies, which is unusual as antiquity seems quite competent in knocking most of them off. Many of the statues are enormous, just immense. One other highlight is the museum wing full of Pompeii villa wall decorations. Or at least what the walls of several of the city’s villas walls may have looked like when the Mountain blew those fateful days during Pompeii’s former glory. The wall coverings are impressive, but after the second or third room, it’s enough. So, Ursula turned what should have been an easy three-hour visit into one…and then headed for the door.
The train ride home was uneventful but for two observations. I’m not sure if it’s at all local train stations, but they have a unique practice at the one from which we departed. There are only two platforms, and they are not large. So to avoid massive congestion right next to arriving and departing trains, they close the platform entrance gates until after the train has arrived and disgorged its passengers. Then, after the platform is mostly clear, they open up the gates, and it’s a mad dash through the platform as everybody races to get a seat. Unfamiliar as we were with the tactics, we stood on the train most of the way home.
Standing on the train, dangling from the hand rai above, gave me better views to my next observation. Italien women are beautiful. They, too, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but most are just beautiful. While standing there, bumping, along with the winding tracks, I was in a perfect position to appreciate the lines and curves and delightful characteristics of a young lady standing near me. Mind you, I did not ogle or lasciviously glare at her. Still, I had just enough surreptitious glances to relish in her beauty. I thought, ‘what a country that produces so many fit, well attended, incredibly attractive young ladies.’ Then it occurred to me how young she was. I thought, wow, this girl could be my daughter’s age if I had one. After a few more moments of realization, it struck to me that actually, she would be closer to my granddaughter’s age, if I had one. This is one of life’s unhappy and sadistic realizations. I further wondered if this made me a lecherous, ‘Dirty old man,’ or just a ‘vintage’ one who was still Alive, and who still appreciates the exquisite graces in life. I’m sure Ursula, who was sitting next to me, noticed my not so surreptitious glances and inwardly smiled, thinking she was married to a dirty old man, but one with refined appreciations, even of other ‘vintaged’ ones.
Just to accentuate the vintage reality, the lower back seized up again. I must have strained it acting like a Pack Mule the day before and now am paying the price. Walking and standing are the only possible positions as sitting only exacerbates the spasms, and any position in between is untenable. While I was able to sit to try on my new leather shoes, Ursula had to bend over and tie up the laces for me, I couldn’t bend far without making an unsightly scene in front of everybody int the shoe store. Motrin and wine seem to be the remedy to lower-back pains and hip tendinitis. Neither works really well at decreasing the pain. But, the discomfort serves as an adequate excuse for more Motrin and wine! A sixteen-year-old mind trapped in a vintage, worn-out body, not cool!