After five hours of a relaxing train ride from Toscana to Southern Italia, we arrived in Napoli! Not going to lie when I first got off the train I was a bit concerned. We had been warned about Napoli...but one of the girls said it right when she declared that it is, indeed, a "lawless land". I used to think Italian drivers were bad - - I was wrong. They are absolutely awful. The streets of Napoli were buzzing with cars that didn't seem to care about speed limits (which, for the record, I don't think they have here), lanes, stop signs, pedestrian cross walks, or the hundreds of stray dogs that are aimlessly wandering. The streets are littered with remembrances of last night's festivities (which is every night for them) and vespas are flying past carrying not only adults, but also their three year old children, smushed between their legs, donning their powerpuff girl helmets and all. I even saw one with a dog standing on the back attached only by a leash that his owner was holding while driving. You look up alley ways and people are unashamedly hanging their delicates out to dry and the overall perfume in the air is "New York Subway". (This scent changes, however, once you start nearing the Mediterranean sea. There you are bombarded with the smell of salt water.) All this craziness, of course, is only because Mount Vesuvius could erupt on them at any moment. The people of Napoli live their lives with, oh...you know...just this overdue Volcano threat looming over them...not a big deal. It's not like there is a huge volcano that they can see as they walk down the street or anything; except there is. In short, Naples was definitely one of the highlights of Italy. It is unlike any other place I have been before and although I proudly wore my money pouch (you should be proud, Mom and Dad) and almost died from a Vespa speeding at me down the street, it was a pretty awesome experience.
The school paid for our train tickets and our housing since it was a scheduled field trip. The place we stayed in was out of control. It's called "Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni" and it is a palace from the 16th century that belonged to Italian nobility. I slept under a high ceiling with Frescoes and a giant chandelier. There was a grand piano next to my bed - fully in tune. It was easily the prettiest place I've ever slept. (www.bb-carafa.com)
After setting down our things, Gianni and Claudia led us through the streets of Naples. We got pastries at this cafe/bar and then headed down to the sea where there is this huge castle. Unfortunately it was closed, but we spent some time just relaxing by the water.
Then we all went out to eat at this pizza place. Let's just say, no question about it, Naples is home to the BEST pizza in the world. I can say this now with the utmost confidence. In Italy when you order a pizza, they don't give you a slice; you get the whole pizza. At first I thought this was insane - and in a lot of places (even around Arezzo) I can't finish the whole thing. No problem in Naples! I ate the entire pizza...and then finished whoever didn't finish theirs. Overall I'd say I probably ate...a pizza and a half? All by myself? Yeah. What can I say...I'm on a Seefood diet. I SEE food and I eat it. (Copyright: Kadie)
The next morning we had class super early in a space across from the Archaeological Museum. I could go on and on about the magic of this "rehearsal room", but I will allow you to see for yourself.
The dancers took movement with us and then we had Tarantella dance with them. For Tarantella, Gianni asked two of his friends from Naples who play in a band to come do live music for us. Oh man. They were so good - and dancing in that space with them playing was magical. Gianni also had us do this exercise where we went up to each person in the class and looked into their eyes for 10 seconds. It was really intense....I think I was the first one to start crying, but others followed soon after me. Made me miss my best friends/family from home.
Guess what we had for lunch after class? PIZZA. This time I split one in half with Emily, though. There was no way I could eat more than that - I could still feel the pizza in me from the night before!
Because the archaeological museum was right across the street, we went to that next. It's pretty sweet - filled with a bunch of old statues as well as artifacts from Pompeii. My favorite part was this gallery that they had with all the walls from Pompeii houses. People back then painted Frescoes on their walls based on religion, mythology, their general way of living, etc. They are beautiful - and despite the Vesuvius's obvious impact on the city, the walls (though dusty and fragmented) are beautiful.
The museum from our "classroom" balcony.
A wall from someone's house in Pompeii.
After that we ran into Claudia and Gianni on the street and they invited us to go "take a coffee" with them. Then we got gelato and headed back down to the sea. The first day that we went it was a bit foggy, and today Mount Vesuvius was lit up in the sun and the sea was blue as ever. So pretty.
Kids playing calcio (soccer)
At six o'clock I did one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life. In Naples, during World War II, a bunch of people converted this old underground water system into a bomb shelter. Because of this, today, underneath Naples, there is basically another entire city; complete with a church, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The tour that we got was all in Italian, but the tour guide was great and helped us understand. Turns out, our tour guide's mom was in the catacombs (as they are called) during World War II and she was pregnant WITH HIM at the time. Talk about full circle. Because it was an old water system, some of the passageways were literally just wide enough for me to walk through and sometimes I had to turn sideways. Some people got really claustrophobic and nervous but our tourguide would say, "Andiamo! Indiana Jones! Ba da da DAAAA!" and go running through the tunnels at full speed. (Keep in mind, this guy is in his 60's.)He was hilarious. All over the walls, there is grafitti and all the grafitti is a reflection of their lives; Marilyn Monroe, Hitler, Mussolini, airplanes, tanks,soccer fields. On one wall, there was evidence (date, two names, a little inscription) that two people got married down there. It was amazing. Full of so much history. (www.lanapolisotterranea.it)
Look carefully: Airplane on the left. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini up top and a guitar on the right.
After this I went back to the bed and breakfast and showered. A group of us went out for dinner for my birthday (we decided to celebrate the night before). I skipped pizza this time and got Italian sausage and a salad. In honor of my birthday we got wine, and afterwards met up wih the rest of the group including Gianni and Claudia at a bar. I didn't pay for a drink the entire night :) YAY BIRTHDAY! 21. Hard to believe. It was a great night though - filled with lots of dancing - and the girls gave me a countdown starting at 10 seconds to midnight which was really cute. They made it a great night.
The next morning (MY 21st BIRTHDAY!! HOORAY!) we THOUGHT we were waking up at 8:30 but in reality we woke up at 9:30. You guys all had daylight savings time a while ago - - we JUST had it in Italy yesterday. Because of this, and a few other miscommunications, me and the girls in my room were late going to Pompeii and everybody had already left! I was so bummed. Luckily we checked out as soon as we could, grabbed a taxi, took the train to Pompeii, and got to walk around inside the city for a little bit. It was kind of a bummer - we paid 11 Euro to get in and then could only stay for 45 minutes because we had to be back in Napoli to catch a train to Arezzo. Some day I will go back and see more because what I saw was absolutely spectacular. The only bad thing about it was the immense amount of tourists, but the day was gorgeous and the city itself was so crazy to be walking through - especially on my birthday.
I slept, read, and wrote on the five hour train back to Arezzo and upon arriving into town, I grabbed a falafel wrap at the Turkish restaurant and walked home. Overall it was a really good day, but it didn't really feel like my birthday just because I wasn't with my friends/family at home. People here made it really special but it still wasn't the same. I got pretty nostalgic as the night went on, but after talking to people from home via skype I felt much better.
This morning we didn't have class until late so I slept in and then had voice class followed by Commedia in the afternoon. In Commedia we had to do another solo improvisation using our character. It's crazy how far all of us have come in the short amount of time we have had with him. Only one and a half more classes left and we are done because we have different workshops the last few weeks. CRAZY. I ended up finding a lot of things within my improv to play with and by the third/fourth time I did it I felt a huge amount of clarity. I'm starting to get the hang of it..
At dinner tonight they had a huge cake with a candle in it for my birthday. YUM.
So there you have it. I managed to survive my 21st birthday in the lawless land of Naples.
Eat. Pray. Love. the book is being made into a film.
This book is a huge reason for why I am here.
Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert.