Naples 7: Contrasts & realities

January 9, 2011

Our original plan for our final day was a drive to the resort of Marina de Cantone for a Michelin three star restaurant before boarding the evening flight back to Gatwick. Unfortunately a web search on the extortionate Swisscom service in the hotel revealed that such luxury is not available during the winter months. One assumes the lotus eaters of Capri are not available to jump into their gin palaces to make the short crossing to the resort. So our plans disrupted we decided to pick up on a few sites in Naples missed earlier in the week and headed off for the Archaeological Museum. The main attraction of this (in my opinion) are the various frescos and statues taken from digs on Villas struck by Vesuvius. Thanks to the open policy on photographs you will find a few examples on flickr later when I upload the 3.1gb of material.

A week in we were now familiar with Naples and walking back to the hotel after an over indulgent lunch we took a short cut up from the docks to the station. Now I should say that the Ramada is not in the most salubrious of locations. To get back from the centre you have to walk through a minor red light area, you can avoid that by walking up from the docks but its not a route I would take other than in daylight. We used it today and met a few of humanities rodent shadows en route. One was stilled and could be photographed, so I decided to conclude this series of travel blogs with some recognition of the reality of Naples.

DSC_1738.jpg These two photographs are of areas five minutes walk from each other. On the right we have the sheer magnificence of the 19thC Galleria Umberto, just across from the San Carlo opera house. Just off the main shopping street that leads to this we have the typical tenement scene in the left hand picture. Small alley ways, one/two bedroom flats home to large families and washing lines containing the fading colours of fabrics that have been washed too many times and handed down through too many owners.

Of course Naples is not the only city to exhibit these contrasts and in its history we can contrast the luxury evident in the remains of the La Villa Dei Papiri with the slave society and brutal military discipline which made that luxury possible. Its interesting to see that all of the various Roman wall decorations tend to my mythological, pastoral or erotic rather than military, which is odd as Roman society was closer to Sparta than Athens in its ethos.

Social realism over for the moment, I was reflecting on the plane that this break with my daughter ranks with the few weeks I spent in California by way of Washington with my son back in 2007. In both cases I had a sustained one on one period which merged travel with sight seeing with conversation. It was also the first time in each case that I had spent longer than a day or so with either child without other family members or friends intruding. As children get older I think this is more valuable than a family holiday. The normal dynamics of a family holiday are not available to fall back on, new rhythms and conversational themes emerge.

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