Naples, Italy: Pizza and Street Artist

IMG_0708I have long purported that Naples is one of my favorite cities: chaotic, crass and crazy.  I longed for Mz. Riz to understand my love of, well my motherland.  My love affair with Naples began in 2002 while working on a show called “The Five Star Hotels of Italy”.  Yes, I know, it’s a tough life but somebody’s got to do it.  The Neapolitan hotel we profiled was Hotel San Francesco al Monte.

The hotel was an old monastery that had its humble beginnings in the 15th century.  Yet even living in the lap of luxury, I wanted to explore the thriving web of activity that lay below in the Quartieri Spagnoli or Spanish Quarter.   Cameraman Stephen Sheridan and I entered the maze of streets as its residents began their day.  An indelible image seared into my memory:  A man on a turquois scooter holding a large bag of fresh baked bread that rested on a sack of flour that was secured between his feet was accompanied by a backpacked child wrapping a careless arm around his father’s waist.  I later found the best place to by sfogliatelle.  I was in love.Memory 2

I loved this city in all its unpolished glory.  The faces that walked by me seemed to be long lost family members.

Yet when Mz. Riz and I arrived the city seemed even more unpolished, I’d venture to say worn out.  My heart sank.  What had happened to my love? Naples RundownNothing really.  We arrived on Sunday, many places are closed and the trash didn’t get picked up.  So we set out to explore the chaos, but not on an empty stomach.

Off we went to find Starita a Katie Parla recommendation that was confirmed by the woman at Hotel Il Convento’s front desk who said it’s where she eats pizza.  It’s a hike and of course we got lost but were assisted by a lovely woman who led us to the street that housed this humble palace of pizza.  It was great.  The menu’s simple, the service fast, in fact, Mz. Riz was amazed at how quickly the pizza arrived.  And the pizza?  Devine.  The crust light and perfectly charred, the San Marzano tomatoes sweet and the mozzarella skillfully dispersed and not piled on like in the states.  Yummm!!Starita

Mz. Riz returned to Hotel Il Convento while I explored the well worn Spanish Quarter.  A few things about this particular area:

  • I don’t think anyone owns a clothes-dryer.
  • The roads are narrow slim and side view mirrors are the victims.
  • It’s a real live neighborhood.
  • And I was the only person holding a map and camera.

I climbed the alleyway by the hotel with my destination being the Hotel San Francesco perched above the quarter.  In this square behind the ubiquitous floating laundry is where I first encountered the art.  And so my journey became the destination as I followed one piece of art to another.Street Art collage

Street Art Collage 2I don’t know whether it was the artist’s use of space, (ever mindful to respect officials postings and parking regulations), sense of humor or it’s absurdity drew me in.  I’ve searched the internet desperate to the name of the artist, to no avail.  So if anyone has any information please send it to me.

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3 Responses to Naples, Italy: Pizza and Street Artist

  1. I always thought the New York City had the best pizza in the world until I had some in Italy. I’m not sure what it is they do there that makes it so good, is it the ovens, the water, the tomatoes? Whatever it is, yes, it’s divine!

  2. Beauty is where ever you choose to see it. Job well done.

  3. champagne says:

    Great to see your entry on Napoli. I have my gushes of love and my lower points of fatigue with Napoli depending on my mood, the heat and the pollution. The toxicity of places in Italy where the cars are allowed drives me nuts. The lack of catalytic converters is destroying the ruins and the landscape (and the lungs) but so be it. It is getting better but only just.

    I think Naples can be overlooked as an art city when it has some incredibly important paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi and Caravaggio, among many others and the spoils of Pompeii and some of the best greco roman sculpture in the world. Santa Lucia is full of clean air and charming restaurants. Hosteria Toledo off the dusty but family friendly Via Toledo is the best food I have ever had and is inexpensive. The best coffee in the world in my opinion is in Naples and can be inexpensive in neighborhood cafes or a little more pricey (but worth it) in art nouveau 1880s/1890s/1900’s cafes (stunningly gorgeous) like Caffe Gambrinus and art nouveau chocolate shops Gay Odin – both patronised by Oscar Wilde frequently.

    I shot some of that street artist too – it would be great to uncover them!

    Spaccanapoli and the Latin Quartier are gems, dusty gems, dingy at times, smokey, but so full of life and motion, which you have beautifully conveyed here. I love the vespa images.

    Italians (rightly so) are very into maintaining the integrity of their fabric. They buy higher quality, real linens and cottons and silks over the polyblends and they wash it in their washing machines (and delicates by hand) and, as the weather is warm enough most of the year, they let their clothing hang dry in the air because it doesn’t damage the fabric, keeps the shape of the pieces, makes the clothing smell fresh, it’s the old way to do it, they’d mend clothing before replacing it as fast as we do and they really distrust dryers… The dryers one can get in Italy are from Germany usually and actually “cook” the clothing like an oven, no harmful tumbling. So many of the delicate fabrics they use (or copious wool) can’t be dried. We buy cheap clothing made in China, wear it out fast, wash and dry it to death and throw it out or give it away on average as a country… they have to really take care of their clothing to maintain the bella figura and the pocketbook.

    I thought it was just an economic thing given that it is Naples but it can be found all over italy with a few exceptions, in highly residential areas.

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