As I mentioned earlier, Randy lived in Naples, Italy as a teenager between the years 1957-59. One of the goals for this trip was, for Randy, a trip down memory lane to see if some of the places he remembered from his childhood were still here.
After a quick breakfast, we were off to find transportation that would take us around the parts of Naples that existed in Randy’s memory. Unfortunately, the cabs at the pier only wanted to take visitors for long distance drives to Sorrento, Pompeii, etc. We would have to look elsewhere.
But first, we stopped at Castle Nuovo which was located very close to the pier. The castle was very impressive and, so too was the beautiful triumphal arch at the main gate marking Alfonso of Aragon’s triumphal march into the city. One sight that caught my eye was what was left of a beautiful fresco by painter Giotto above the inside of the front door of the castle. The fresco was lovely.
Then we were off to find transportation that would take us up around parts of Naples that existed in Randy’s memory. We walked for a few blocks and found the square filled with taxi cabs. Randy talked to one of the drivers and negotiated a deal for the driver to take us on a one-hour tour to the Posillipo, the name of one hill in Naples where he used to live
Now, the only problem was the driver spoke no English and Randy only remembered a little Italian. It turned out however, that is all it took and we were off. Our driver’s name was Vincenzo. (Yes, I know. First we had two tour guides named Vincenzo and now our cab driver is named Vincenzo. It was just too funny.)
Vincenzo was eager to make us happy and, so, off we went on a, sometimes terrifying, roller coaster ride through the streets. Vincenzo drove at breakneck speed; hitting his brakes often barely missing hitting opened car doors or unsuspecting pedestrians as they tried to cross the street. Periodically, I had to put my hands across my eyes.
Randy told Vincenzo the address that he remembered, Via Tre Tre, but he did not seem to understand or know where that was. Randy also told him that he wanted to go to the old school and the hospital on Via Manzoni. On the road up, Randy pointed out the caves where he used to go exploring to see what he could see. The caves were used to house gun emplacements for the protection of the Bay of Naples.
During our way up the hill, we mentioned that we would like to take pictures. All of a sudden, Vincenzo pulled off the road and kept saying, “Photograph, photograph”. We got out of the cab to a view that was just beautiful. We were overlooking the Bay of Naples. Vincenzo volunteered to take pictures of us and then we took a few more. The view was a little hazy but still beautiful.
As we started to return to the cab Randy realized that right in front of us was the church he and his family attended when they lived in Naples, S. Antonio A Posillopo. Because it was Sunday we decided not to enter the church and disturb the worshippers but instead asked Vincenzo to take a picture of us in front of the church. Then we were off again to find his school, home and hospital where he had been taken after his skiing accident.
We found the school but it no longer was an American school but an Italian academy. We found the hospital but it looked as though it had been long abandoned. We never did find the apartment building he and his family lived in. Then off again to the end of Via Manzoni to see if we could find the place where his dad kept their sailboat. This was not to be either as most of the entrances had gates and did look like he remembered.
As we drove down to the Mergellina where the fishing boats were moored, we saw the tunnel his family used to take to the commissary.
“It was so polluted back in the 50’s that we had to roll up the windows and hold our breath going through it. It appears to be much improved,” Randy remarked. Randy was a little dismayed as we came upon Luna Park. “When I lived here, we used to go there and ride the amusement rides, but I did not see any there today,” Randy said sadly.
Happy and sad at the same time, Randy said as we headed back to the city center, “What a wonderful time I had exploring what I remember of my life in Naples. “Although,” he said, “I was disappointed at how little Naples has changed over these many years”.
Back to the square safe and sound, we talked about going back to the ship or walking around the town and seeking out a nice side-walk café for a bite to eat. We stood in the middle of the square while Randy decided which direction we would go.
Then Randy pointed down a street that Randy said represented a typical street with lights strung across the road, shops, cafés and street performers. As we walked he would point down the narrow alleys that were filled with small shops, cafés and clothes hung across.
We stopped at Bar L.u.i.s.e and had a wonderful cup of café latte a delicious pastry. What really made The restaurant had free Wi-Fi which made Randy very happy. He was able to sign on and check out his email and Facebook accounts.
On our way back to the port we noticed a great deal of excavation and stopped to see what they had unearthed. To our surprise it was the remains of the early Roman port of Naples. It was time to return to the ship. We stopped by the Park Café in Central Park and picked up some lunch and found comfortable chairs in the park and talked about our day. We could not wait until dinner to share our day’s experiences with our tablemates.
Tomorrow we are at sea for a day and then on to Barcelona.