Here we go, it is one of the most ancient cities in Europe with over 3,000 years of history. It passed ages of extreme grandeur and other of profound decline. It's Naples.
We start from the historical centre. A grid of streets where you can find every possible architectural style: Greek buildings, Roman theatres, Gothic churches, Medieval walls, renaissance "palazzo" and so on. Well, the center is beautiful but also quite run-down. Garbage and graffiti are everywhere and clumsy traffic policemen do whatever they can to manage the traffic. But new form of arts also emerge from the vandalism: we spot nice pieces of street art, including two pieces that looks like Banksy (although probably not original).
Naples is a very lived city. It smells humanity from every corner and on the streets the everyday life is represented / staged. We meet with Andrea and his family. He is one of the rare example of emigration from North to South. He comes from North East of Italy and came down to Naples 10 years ago. Nowadays, he has totally absorbed not only the Neapolitan culture, but also his accent.
The city has a very peculiar attitude towards religiousness and beliefs. The worship of dead is still very popular: people believe that by praying the dead, the dead will take care of them and will visit the live ones during the dreams. The Saints here are more popular than Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In this scene we can observe a devoted man kissing the liquefied blood of San Gennaro, the patron of the city. Among the various Saints, a very popular one is San Maradona, also called "El Pibe de Oro". Among the various beliefs, a popular one is the "smorfia" (the smirk), i.e. the suggestion coming from the dreams on which numbers to play at the lottery. Let's try if it works ...
We leave the sunlight for a few hours to decent in the city underground. Going 40mt below sea level means travelling back by almost 3000 years. The galleries were originally build by the Greeks as tuff mines; then used as aqueduct by the Romans and more recently used by shelter during the bombing from the Americans during WW2. Nowdays they can be visited with a walking tour.
Food in Naples is something sublime ... pasta ... seafood ... and obviously the famous pizza. The city has a culinary variety that we try to experience as much as we can in the restaurants or at home of Cristina's uncle, Rosaria.
We can't leave Naples without visiting the ruins of Pompeii. This site is a time machine which brings back to Romans time. Out guide here is "The Professor" Giuseppe Galano. We appreciate him not only for his knowledge, but also for his passion which he uses to describe the history and the costumes of that era. After Pompei, we visit Villa Oplontis, also called Villa of Poppea, allegedly the wife of Nero.
In essence, to cite an Italian journalist, Naples is one of the most mysterious cities in Europe, Naples is a Pompei which never got buried, this city is a World on his own.