My friend told me today that some author has said that Napoli is like a beautiful woman with stinky feet.
Until this trip, I knew only about the stinky feet. The poverty and crime of this city are well known throughout Italy. Right now the city is literally stinky because for over two years the Camorra, the local Mafia, have made it such that the garbage services do not function for the city. It's crazy.
But today I got to see the beautiful woman.
We drove around much of the bay. You can see Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, and of course the blue sea all around. I did not realize how much of Napoli is surrounded by water.
We went to Pozzuoli (Puteoli), which is the port that the apostle Paul sailed into when he spent a week with the church here before going on to Rome.
We went by an old Roman amphitheater (closed), and a site where they found tons of ruins under the city built on top of them. They have closed that part off and opened the underground part. Unfortunately it was closed today, too! But still neat to see the buildings built atop the ruins and imagine what was below.
We went to the castle of Baia, built just three years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It houses some ancient ruins. Part of a temple was found underwater in the 50s and has been/is being excavated and preserved in this castle. Part of the bay is clearly marked off by red buoys, indicating where the remaining ruins are, and they continue to bring things up from the water.
Our last stop was Cuma, said to be the oldest European city. I loved it. It's up high, with lots of trees, and just fascinating to see all the ruins.
In all these places I was mostly talking with my friend Jennifer, not concentrating on learning dates and history, so I'm not even trying to tell you that much about the places.
What an interesting day, though, to look at statues and mosaics made before Christ was born, then to sit in the sun in a 4th century baptistery out in the open and talk and pray with Jennifer....and then to buy a popsicle on the way out! And it was so funny. I told the man I wanted strawberry. "Va bene." (Okay.) Jennifer asked if they had cherry. "Si, tanto sono lo stesso." (Yes, they're the same.)
They were selling red popsicles whether you asked for strawberry or cherry! They're both red, right? This is Napoli.
Tonight we're going to watch the boys place soccer, and tomorrow I think we're going to try to get to the amphitheater, which is supposed to be open, according to the sign we saw.
This being Napoli, though, there's no telling.
But with the blue sea, the islands all around, the wildflowers everywhere (truly wild, they seem to have no highway maintenance here), the maritime pines (which inspired Respighi's Pines of Rome), and the blue sky today, she is a beautiful woman.