Thursday, August 31
Making friends part 2
Andrea arrived in a beat up white Fiat Uno, a typical car in these parts. The driving is rather precarious here that it is not worth investing in new cars, they'd only get battered and scratched.
He took me first to Resina, a large second hand market. The area was poor and dirty, graffiti covered the buildings, windows were broken or boarded up. The market stalls were full of bric a brac, clothes and friendly sellers gossiping while smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee out of thermos flasks. Andrea bought a few tee shirts and a pair of jeans, he held them up for me to admire, “these would have cost three times the price in Sorrento!”
We climbed back into the car and bumped along the uneven cobbled streets, vespas whizzing past us, scarily close. The city was throbbing with life, cars and bikes, horns honking, people shouting and calling, musicians playing for coins on the streets. It was dusty, dirty and searingly hot, but what an atmosphere! We parked the car in a little dark cobbled piazza, buildings looming over from four sides, small alleyways letting in shafts of light .Andrea led me through the streets, past fish markets, churches,clothes shops and cafes. He showed me the street where you can buy Chrismas decorations all year round from every shop. We walked through SpaccaNapoli, a long thin street that cut right through the heart of the city, so straight that you could see all the way from one end of town to the other. We jostled for a table and ate pizza in a small crowded cafe where Bill Clinton had once eaten.
After lunch we wandered through the beautiful elegant cloisters of the monestry of Santa Chiara. We kicked our shoes off and padded around barefoot on the cool tiles. He took me through the Spanish quarters, tiny narrow passageways where the sunlight hardly entered and families of 10 lived in one room, so small that the sofas were often outside on the street. We visited a friend of his, Erica, who lived in a skylight apartment with views over the bay. Her mother was there and insisted on reading tarot cards for me.
Later as the sun was setting we wandered along a street of shops selling musical instruments and arrived at Piazza Bellini. We sat down outside the Arab cafe, where men sat on their haunches, smoking hookah pipes. We ordered strong Arabic coffe and tiny pastries, made with honey and almonds. As it grew dark, strands of fairy lights, hanging in the trees lining the piazza were switched on. Naples was more than I ever hoped for, it was time to go , but I already was looking forward to the next visit. Walking back to the car via the port, Andrea told me of many more things to see and do in the city. As we drove south down the motorway, chattering happily, Vesuvius watched silently from the side. Andrea dropped me off outside my apartment, promising to call me soon.
at 4:07 PM