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.
Seen from above Naples is a jigsaw held between volcanic lands and blue sea. It’s a mix of the ancient and the new, and its life is neither easy nor still.
Views of the Bay of Naples and its city are held in a cup, guarded along its rim by Vesuvio, Capri, Ischia, Capo Miseno and the Campi Flegrei. On clear days the sun bounces in silver off its Tyrhennian Sea.
In the centro storico – the old core of dark, narrow, high-sided streets – the city sits unshifted, guardian of its artists and its artisans …
… of its saints and traditions …
On every corner, whatever its era, it lives …
… and it watches.
There is colour …
… there is the every day.
When employment fails entrepreneurs step in – some are professional and experienced …
… others are seasonal and hopeful.
Statues mark the stories.
Some take the best seats in the city.
Character and personality fill every inch of Naples, each connected to the next, merged but separate.
There is wealthy Chiaia.
There are the close-packed streets of the Quatieri Spagnoli.
There are marinas built over waters that swept in Parthenope herself.
Apartments cram along ridges.
Old monasteries treasure the views.
And Posillipo sits lush above its shore.
It is a city where time has passed but never left. There is the new and shiny …
.. there is the old and worn.
Walls and doors tell their stories.
They sketch aggression and consequence.
They mark the university and where students have been.
They put a face on religion.
They tell of the struggle between state, corruption and crime.
There is football …
… and the passion that comes with it.
Naples is a city with complex roots, too elusive to capture fully as a visitor, but intriguing to step into.
It’s been loved, abandoned, decorated, bombed, and threatened … it’s a city that survives.
If you have the chance to visit don’t hesitate. There are not many cities in Europe that combine so much treasure with such character – that bear the fingerprints of the Greeks and the Romans; the mythical and the sacred; of so many kingdoms and peoples. It’s alive and it’s captivating.
Two tips to make the most of your time – visit when the temperatures will suit you most, and, if it’s your first visit, take a guide.
Napoli … a city to remind us of what other cities have lost.
Auguri per un felice 2017!
Two short YouTube clips to end the year with. One stars the voice of Pino Daniele and the other Tom and Jerry.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2016