“What a child”, I thought while looking at Paolo sitting across the coach from me in a metro we took. He was tapping his feet while looking around the metro and starring at people, smiling and soaking every detail of their faces. The deep, male voice announced our stop and I nodded at him as a sign to get out. He grabbed a hand hold while standing up and found amusement in the move his body naturally made finding its balance while train was stopping. “What a child” I thought again smiling.
“So, how was your first ride with a metro your highness?” asked I this 33 years old man child that never used public transport before. “That woman was sleeping while sitting, did you notice? She was funny” was all he said, while searching for closest exit leading to funiculars. Only reason we actually were traveling by metro was because Paolo wanted me to see Toledo metro station, named after nearby Via Toledo, and it’s voted one of the most beautiful metro stations in Europe. It was built as a part of Art stations program that involved contemporary artists and architects bringing art to peoples’ ordinary lives and was designed by Spanish architect Oscar Bianca showing Naples itself, referring to its history, sun and sea. It looked as if it was designed so Neapolitans don’t forget, in those few minutes in the underground, how precious life and sea look like. Here we caught our line, so my companion can see how it is to be an ordinary citizen.
Funicular was another thing Paolo haven’t used in a while, that was taking us up to the Castel Sant’Elmo, where he, also, didn’t want me to have a city map, so he can keep holding it wide open, only so he can resemble “a funny tourist”, which made him strangely joyful, as if we were playing a most exciting game ever. Castle, originally a church, reshaped into six-pointed star fortification, is placed on the hilltop overlooking the city. The fort, awfully reminded me of the Fortezza Medicea back in Siena, with its sharp edges and park in the middle of it. They were both built under the Spanish rule and served for military purposes and both offer, a magnificent, 360 degrees views of the surroundings.
There was Napoli, spread under me like a colorful rug, accidentally fallen of the terrace where it was supposed to be shaken out by nonna, who would be, by all chance, cursed by passers-by who entered the cloud of its flying dust. It’s heavy, worn and rough around the edges but yet, full of stories, tenderness and glow. Somewhere smells of dirty feet, somewhere of nonna’s home made lasagna and it has that 100 year old wine stein on the corner no one even notices anymore. Vesuvio, on its end, breaks a long strip of the bluest sky I’ve ever seen, spread over the city, only to tape it to the sea on his other side. Un pezzo di cielo caduto in terra(A piece of heaven fell on Earth) i say into my beard, watching the sky pouring down into the sea like in an hourglass, turning pink, orange, yellow and finally dark as the day runs out. The city lights up, never stopping murmuring and jesting, while bars and restaurants start bringing out their finger food, opening the famous aperitivo hour.
„Vieni?“ Paolo asked, pointing his finger to one of the terraces lighten up by the candles, overlooking the scenery.
„To have some food before actual food? Naturalmente.“
“Vedi Napoli e poi muori! — See Naples then die!”– Author Unknown