“É più difficile guidare a Napoli che a Roma,” I said to the guy at the parking lot as I paid for our two day stay, after 20 minutes of living the chase scene from The French Connection.
“Siiiii,” he replied, punching numbers into the credit card device.
“É selvaggio.” I added: It’s savage.
At this he opened his eyes wide, lifted his chin, and nodded slightly while wagging his hand – You said it, lady.
The two parking lot attendants complimented me on my Italian (ooof), asked if I was German (No, Siamo americani), and warned me to be very careful crossing streets.
Naples is not the prettiest city by a long shot. Naples had more vegan food than I’ve yet noticed in Italy. Naples had way more tourists than perhaps it deserves. Naples had streets that looked like I imagine immigrant Italian neighborhoods in New York City used to look. Naples had tiny doors cut into giant beautiful wooden doors. Naples has cute AirBnBs with washing machines only slightly deeper than a remote and cheerful young hosts who want to make sure you are happy. Naples is (rightly) proud of its connection to Caravaggio. Naples has a guy who lives in an alleyway just off the tourist street and sings karaoke on his veranda not for money but for joy. Naples has corner market where the packages of toilet paper are opened so you can buy individual rolls. Naples has sfogliatelle and fried anchovies and THE ORIGINAL pizza that is served on paper and folded up into fourths like a greasy, cheesy clover.
Naples is traffic and graffiti and Maersk crates and uncompromising pedestrians and dog shit and churches and construction and tiny elevators and cornicello key ring souvenirs and peeling paint and gentrification and health food bowls and happy dogs named Sasha and young couples who look like they stepped off the set of Jersey Shore and giant ships and unyielding Vespas and honking horns and older parking lot attendants who remind you that you should remember your sunscreen.
Naples is noisy and dirty and vibrant and alive and it is savage.