The Villa Pignatelli, two dogs, and a carriage museum in Naples, Italy

A look back (first published 9 March 2016): the Villa Pignatelli – owned by the Actons, the Rothschilds, and the Pignatellis – is now a museum and, together with its carriage display, well worth a visit if you’re lucky enough to be in Chiaia in Napoli.

The Phraser

Villa Pignatelli in Naples, Italy Villa Pignatelli in Naples, Italy

This villa – white and recently restored – sits in the lap of one of the most crowded cities in Europe.  It has the blue sea to its front, colour behind, and is wrapped in an exclusive coat of green.

Its striking, classical profile is very different to the buildings that now surround it.

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Sea cats around the Bay of Naples, Italy

I published this post on The Phraser at the end of February 2016. February is a grand time to be on the Bay of Naples. The sun might not always be there, and it might be chilly, but there’s always coffee and plenty to explore … plus, of course, you’re bound to bump into a cat.

The Phraser

By the old fishing harbour in Pozzuoli, near Naples, Italy By the old fishing harbour in Pozzuoli, near Naples, Italy

Last week a bonny, blond portrait painter came to stay.  We took her to see the sights: old fishing harbours; castles; artworks; views; and we fended off the men … but it was the cats that caught her eye.

I looked where she looked – this is for her.

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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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The joy, and guilt, of a drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy

I wrote this post at the end of February last year. Since then we’ve seen another summer on the lovely Amalfi Coast … but we’ve also sat in its traffic jams, and met up with friends, weak with frazzled nerves, after they’ve completed their own summer drives along this famous coast. My advice is to travel by sea .. I don’t think donkeys are available yet 🙂

The Phraser

View from above Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Italy View from above Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Some places fill the mind with light, draw us like moths towards their flame … and as we arrive in our thousands the chaos from our wingbeats pushes outwards.

The Amalfi Coast, rippled turquoise, with emerald light and wilderness, is one such flame; and I feel like a vandal every time I visit by car.

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In search of a book in Naples, Italy

A look back: this piece was first published on 12 February 2016. I can still feel the sunshine of that walk, and the satisfaction of being able to ask for help in simple Italian. The embarrassing part is that, a year on, the book I took such trouble to hunt down is still not finished … plus I’ve discovered my weary dictionary isn’t big enough for Enzo Striano.

The Phraser

Books and Naples, Italy are old friends Books and Napoli are old friends

Step in amongst the books in this ancient city and it’s hard to avoid the big names on almost every corner. My search for just one novel was busy enough.

Start on the Lungomare and there’s the castle known, thanks to Virgil, as the Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the Egg).

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Naples, Italy: the loss of Pino Daniele

This piece is an updated version of an article first published last year to mark the anniversary of the death of the singer Pino Daniele who was born and raised in Naples, Italy. Tomorrow will be the second anniversary of his death … I don’t think Naples will ever forget him.

The Phraser

Pino Daniele - singer, adored by Naples, died suddenly January 2015 Pino Daniele

Waves of emotion can hit you from any distance – one washed right over me this time two years ago. I was thousands of miles away from the event that caused the outpouring of emotion … but I knew that it mattered.

The ‘event’ was the sudden death of the singer Pino Daniele on January 4th 2015, and the city whose heart split open was Napoli. Facebook wept with tributes. I could feel the pain from wherever I sat.

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Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

This post, a review of the last of Elena Ferrante’s novels about Naples, Italy, was first published on 16 January 2016. I read all four books in this series while I lived on the outskirts of Naples. Thanks to Ferrante I was shown inside the city, inside what links us all.

The Phraser

The last of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels The last of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels

This is a story about the dark places, and the fires, inside all of us.  It’s not new, it’s as old as Naples, but it’s told with the energy of possibility and through the eyes of women.

The Story of the Lost Child is the last book in a series of four – the Neapolitan novels.

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Naples, Italy: on its way to the New Year

I first posted a version of this piece this time last year. This is a relaunch – more photographs, less story – a thank you to a city that gave us so much.

The Phraser

Image from a t-shirt design by 'Officina Flegrea' Image from a t-shirt design by ‘Officina Flegrea’ –

In the summer of 2014 we arrived in our new home on the outskirts of Naples.  We left this autumn.  Two years in total, two years in which we were privileged to see places many Neapolitans themselves never get the chance to visit.  Some of the sights we saw were outside the city but many were squeezed into its narrow streets.

This post, mainly of photographs, is a glance at the context, at some of the neighbourhoods and corners, that frame a few of those places that were in Naples itself.

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