March 7th, 2006


napoli: if it's not a port city, I don't want to live there

People told me that Naples wasn't a very nice place.

It's dirty! There's nothing to do! No reason to go there!

I'm certainly not trusting those people's opinions again.

Naples is a port city. So, yeah, it's a little grungier, a little more industrial, a little more . . . lived-in. But I found it much easier to believe that the people living there were living there, not merely existing there or showing up as a backdrop to tourism.

It just felt more solid.

What didn't feel solid was, ironically, the castles. Holy crap, castles! Rome had castles too, of course - but sane, sensible castles, like "let's build a big hulking castle next to this convenientially located river". Napoli's castlebuilders were brilliant madmen in comparison, from "hey look it's a small chunk of land in the sea located a hundred meters from the shore let's put a castle here" to "cliffs! you know what cliffs make me think of? castles, on top of those cliffs! like practically hanging over the side!"

And it's hard to argue with logic like that.

Especially once you've seen the view.

The dropoff hill and castle wall combined must have been near a thousand feet, at a 60 degree angle or more. From that point you could look down on the tallest buildings in the city. You could see the train station as a small smudge on the landscape - twenty bays and associated infrastructure from the ground, almost nonexistent from the sky. You could trace streets - not by the streets themselves, but rather by the paths they carved in the rooftops. The city seemed to be consistently three stories high, just a solid smooth surface made entirely out of rooftops.

It would not surprise me to know that one could see Pompeii, if you knew which way to look and what to look for (neither of which I knew.)

It would have been trivial to see invading forces. Maybe the builders weren't crazy after all.

Napoli was the first place that felt truly alive to me. Lyon I didn't spend enough time in. Roma, while fascinating, just didn't strike me as a city - rather, a tourism center. But Napoli? Napoli didn't care that I was there. Napoli would go on along with its daily life if tourists suddenly stopped coming. Napoli was a City.

We didn't spend much time in Napoli itself. We missed most of the landmarks. I think there's a lot more to do there . . . and it didn't seem a bad place at all to simply hang out.

Perhaps I'll go again.