My love letter to Napoli

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Watching a trailer from a documentary of the 26 TIDF, I had the chance to come back to one of my favorite places in the world: Napoli. Located in the Bay and closely watched by the threatening Vesuvius, many people ignore it to focus on other magnificent attractions on the surroundings like Capri, Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. In my opinion, that’s such a big mistake.

The capital of Campania is the biggest city of southern Italy and the third of the country. Few cities in the world are so usually defamed and stereotyped for their compatriots like Napoli is in Italy. It is true that the mafia is still present and the organized chaos of the city can be annoying while you don’t get used to it, but it is such a shame to reduce to some issues a city so full of magic in every corner. As it is usually defined, Napoli is an “open-air theatre”.

Get yourself lost by the narrow streets of Forcella and the Quartieri Spagnoli and find there the true essence of Napoli. Go by the seaside, enjoying the view of the Gulf and the two Castle. Or if you really want the best sight, go up to Vomero at sunset. Piazza Plebiscito, Palazzo Reale, Galleria Umberto I… take your time to discover the main places of the city.

However, what really makes Napoli special in a country with the breathtaking beauty of Roma, Firenze or Venezia is its own art. Art is everywhere in this city in every single way and expression. Each corner, wall, song, gesture or random phrase heard by the streets is different. Napoli is a whole unique world, one of the last authentic places in Western Europe. 

One of the best Italian actors of this century, Toni Servillo, said once that Napoli is one of the last places where people still behave like authentic people. He is a son of this city, as well as some other actors like Massimo Troisi, Sophia Loren, the director Paolo Sorrentino or Eduardo Scarpetta, one of the biggest icons of the Napolitan theatre, that has well-known symbols like the “Pulcinella”. Another actor is Marcello Mastroianni, who highlighted Napoli as the less Americanized city of Europe. He was not born there, but adopted as one more of them. Same case as the biggest idol of the city, Diego Armando Maradona, who became the patron saint of it together with San Gennaro. Authors like Pier Paolo Pasolini could truly understand the magic of Napoli and write it down, as Pino Daniele did with songs like “Napule è”.

If there were not enough reasons, what would Napoli be without its food? Pizza Margherita and Marinara were invented here. One of the best seafood of the Mediterranean can be found here, combined usually with pasta (“alle vongole”). Ragù, mozzarella, ricotta, sweets as babà or sfogliatella… And it’s worthy to mention one of the biggest religions of the city: the coffee. It should be taken in the original way of Napoli, generally strong in a small cup and with a glass of water. Also the best Limoncello can be found here and in Sorrento, a small city that is also worthy to visit in the surroundings.

And if you are a football lover, few places in the world show such a passion and devotion for their team as Napoli does, usually against all odds. Here Maradona is everywhere and even if you don’t follow sports, his story and his meaning in the city should still be admirable. Here, the line separating mysticism and a passion leading to craziness is always on the edge. 

In life, it is possible to find places where you belong even being far from home. In my case, one of them is Napoli. Maybe it is not made for everyone and despite all its issues and imperfections, I find it amazing and unique on its way. I only hope that the city can keep developing and leaving behind its stereotypes but without ever losing that authenticity that makes it so special. Art, history, food and passion were combined to create this (crazy) gem. Cannot wait to visit it once again!

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