4 Agosto 2009
L’Isola d’Ischia, Italia
Today:Milano-Napoli-Ischia, (with stops in Bologna, Firenze and Roma.)
We arrived in Napoli by train from Milano at 2:05. We quickly got out of the crowded station into the fray of people, cabs and hawkers. We selected a cab, asked the price ahead of time and he hustled us toward the boat dock.
Traffic rivaled Xi’an, China! It was equally alarming, hilarious and unruly. By all counts, it should not work, but as in Xi’an, it does. Just give the driver the address, close your eyes and don’t look.
He dropped us right across the walk from the ticket counter. We bought two tickets, walked around the corner and onto the boat. Moments after taking our seats, the boat pulled away from the dock at precisely 2:30. We had managed all that, IN NAPOLI, in the 25 minutes since our train had arrived in town!
There was no time for even a photo to mark our moments in the city. The image in my mind of the castle across from the dock will have to suffice until I have the guts to return and stay a little longer. I would like to return to Napoli for whatever I can deem to be “safe” exploration. But in my short time, I saw a brusqueness in the people and a weariness in the structure of the city. Add that to the tales and warnings I’ve heard and I approach Napoli with caution.
I’m traveling with Glenda, a new friend from Milano, on her August holiday, her “get-outta-dodge” trip away from the city. She invited me to join her, just days after I had arrived from Seattle. I simply said “yes”, with no research or forethought. “Perche no?!” Why not?
I left the apartment at 7:30 this morning. Caught the train at Romolo at about 7:45 and got into Milano Centrale train station at 8:05. Amidst the sea of travelers I found Glenda through a couple of phone calls, and we boarded the “alto velocitá”, high speed train south.
We chatted. Napped. Nibbled on bresaola slices, provolone and seeded bread. The train stopped for passengers on and off at Bologna, Firenze and Roma, then after another hour more we started coming into Napoli.
Napoli is quite different from what I’ve seen of cities in the north. Buildings are in dire need of a paint job, citywide. Streets and sidewalks are strewn with debris. Tent camps have rooted under the overpasses. Visually, Napoli is a mess. But our cabbie expressed great pride in his city, and that’s the heart I’d like to seek out and encounter.