Apologies for the silence. It has been a hectic fortnight of family, friends and farewells. I shall be back at my desk tomorrow.
A look back (first published 24 May 2015): a year on there was little sign of change at the lake: the road around its far end was worse; the abandoned hotel still gaped; and the rowers powered on. Only the water buffalo had gone … and our innocence.
The pink hotel stood block-upright and silent. Bleak windows stared from behind the flaking wall – all happiness abandoned.
Nervously we peered upwards through the car’s windscreen, enticed by the almost empty roadside parking. Behind us, in the back, the dog bounced with impatience.
We were unsure … the dog wasn’t … so what was wrong?
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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.
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.
Some names stick, along with all the muck that goes with them; other names, that make the bones shiver, don’t budge and it makes no sense at all.
The ‘gates of hell’ near today’s Cuma is an ancient mythical name given to a lake that today is about as rattlesnake as Homer Simpson.
It was the dog that took us there first. Someone had said Lago d’Averno would be perfect …
We had a rendezvous to arrange … and it had to be perfect.
Our final choice was the Hotel Beau Site in Talloires. It looked beautiful on its website – more like an old, elegant home than a hotel – and, more important, it had grounds that seemed to lead down to a private beach on a pristine lake.
The bad news – it was a self-promoting hotel an easy drive from of some the most famous ski slopes in Europe. Surely a web-trap?
In winter the ‘Litorale Domitio’ near Naples is quiet. Perfect for dogs?
In late February we began to hunt for walks for our labrador due to join us in the spring after he’d spent eight months frolicking with family in the leafy parks of Copenhagen.
We fretted for his well-being in the streetwise south.