The haircut – Naples, Italy

The hair problem

The hair problem

The day arrives, a day that sends shivers through my toothbrush … it’s the day of the haircut.  This dreaded day I am in Naples, Italy and about to pay my first visit to one of the city’s hairdressers.

In a froth of toothpaste I imagine a salon crowded with suntanned, Latin loveliness … icy, manicured fingernails stab down my spine.

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Luci d’Artista (Artists’ Lights) in the port city of Salerno, Italy

A look back (first published 22 January 2016): One of my strongest childhood memories is of the dazzle and excitement of Christmas lights in a city park – in Salerno last year I saw the magic again. It’s hard to resist – why would you want to anyway?

The Phraser

The Castello di Arechi in Salerno looks down on the Luci d'Artista The Castello di Arechi in Salerno looks down on the Luci d’Artista

The dark months of winter can be full of gloom.  This is true everywhere but in the south of Italy it feels personal.

Here the point is the sun.  Without it there is no light on the sea, no sun in your glass, no need for riposo.

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A look back over two years in Naples, Italy

The Bay of Naples, Italy

The Bay of Naples, Italy

Experience, memory and time frame our lives.  We exist together and are shaped by them but are unable to catch hold of any one of them … we’re like flotsam on a storm sea.

I look back at my life and know its chapters have changed me, that each has altered the book of me they belong to.  Now there’s a new chapter to add – Naples.

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Fear amongst the ceramics on the Amalfi Coast

Mural outside Industria Ceramica Avallone in Vietri sul Mare

Large tile mural by the entrance to Industria Ceramica Avallone in Vietri sul Mare

No – no foto!”  The small, elderly woman hustled through the piled plates towards us.

Non posso fare …?”  My bad Italian faltered.

No!”  Her finger flicked sternly from side to side as she halted in front of us, dark eyes flashing with suspicion.

“Who are you?”  The slow English syllables were weighted with menace.

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2015 – Christmas in Naples, Italy, from the outside

A look back (first published on 24 December 2015): Christmas in Naples – different but not so different.

The Phraser

A Christmas light by the San Paolo football stadium in Naples, Italy A Christmas light by the San Paolo football stadium in Naples, Italy

The sun shines in Naples and the streets are full.  Many are just out for the occasion, to watch and be watched, and others to shop, to sell, to beg, to walk the dog.

It’s definitely Christmas but it never stops being Naples – nothing is drowned in jingles or jolliness.

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The horse that followed me to Benevento

A look back (first published in April 2015): since this visit to Benevento I’ve discovered another horse of Mimmo Paladino’s in Naples. This horse, possibly even more striking than the others, stands on the roof of the MADRE (Museum of contemporary Art DonnaREgina) in the city.

The Phraser

Reflection of the horse that followed me to Benevento Reflection of the horse that followed me to Benevento

I didn’t expect to see the horse.  The guidebooks never mentioned that one would be there, nor that others would be hidden in the same space.

My first sight of the horse was in Naples.  He’s tucked around the back of the Royal Palace where he struggles to climb out of a mound of salt.  You don’t forget horses like that.

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A day in the sky on the island of Capri

The island of Capri viewed from Castel Sant'Elmo in Naples, Italy

The island of Capri viewed from Castel Sant’Elmo in Naples, Italy

Two years of knowing and not-knowing; two years of a one-sided fascination – it may never have become anything else if it hadn’t been for a friend.

Her invitation to spend the weekend with her at home on the island of Capri was a gift … but we had a problem.

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The Certosa di San Martino: the jewel at the top of Naples

A look back (first published on 13 December 2015): I have made quite significant changes to this post – the skeleton is the same as the original but I have replaced much of the Angevin history with photographs. By the end of our two years in Naples I had visited this charterhouse so often that my library of photographs is more than my blog can hold. I hope you enjoy them, and that one day you’ll be able to visit the Certosa di San Martino yourself, because I know that my camera and I can’t do it justice.

The Phraser

The Certosa di San Martino and Castel Sant'Elmo dominate the Naples skyline The Certosa di San Martino and Castel Sant’Elmo dominate the Naples skyline

There are two chunks of prime real estate in Naples, two properties that swagger largest when you look up at the city from the sea.  They’ve been together for centuries.

The highest of the two is Castel Sant’Elmo – the star-shaped fortress that looks like it’s been carved out of rock by a gifted sledgehammer.  Right next to it is the Certosa di San Martino, proud when seen from below, but less obvious when approached by road.

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Interview: Michael Aspinall – gentleman diva and ‘maestro di canto classico’

Michael Aspinall photographed in Christ Church, Naples Italy in 2016

Michael Aspinall photographed in Christ Church, Naples Italy in 2016

The trouble with being the king of a niche is that however impeccable your talents your kingdom may not be big enough for those outside the niche to notice your crown … which, if the king is a modest man, leaves the rest of us none the wiser … as it were.

I met such a king recently and it took two years to discover who he was.

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