July 19, 2010

Weekly(ish) Photo Essay: Napoli (Part I)

Naples is a city where you have look both ways before crossing a one way street, and where newborns ride scooters without helmets.

 Bad Parenting 101: Three People On A Scooter And The Only One Without A Helmet Is The Baby

It is covered in garbage (no, the newspapers do not lie).

And apparently people will steal potted plants if they aren't tied down.

But the people are so friendly, the coffee is amazing, and the pizza is out of this wold.


I've been whining about wanting to go to Napoli for months.

It all started when I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert talked about the pizzeria Da Michele. She says (and I'm roughly paraphrasing here, since I can't find my copy of the book to look for the actual quote):

"Da Michele is supposedly the best pizzeria in Napoli. They only make Magherita and Marinara, and so they make them damn good. And if it's the best pizzeria in Napoli, which is the city where they make the most delicious pizza in Italy, and if Italy is the country where they make the most delicious pizza in the world, then following that logic, Da Michele makes the best pizza in the world."

I, for one - food aficionado that I am, had to investigate this claim. I'd been living in Italy with the best pizza in the world a mere two and a half hours away and I'd never been! Oh the horror!

But Valerio never wanted to go.

"Naples is dirty," he'd say. "They'll steal your watch right off your wrist at a stop light if you have your arm out of the car. If you wear a helmet on your scooter the police shoot at you, because only criminals wear helmets to cover their faces - everyone else rides without. If you park your car and leave it, you'll come back to find two axels and hubcap..."

And more resiliently stubborn anti-Neapolitan nonsense and prejudices that only Romans can hold so strongly. (Neapolitans and Romans have hated each other since the dawn of time).

So I don't know what changed for him (maybe I'd made my case for the best pizza in the world enough times), but this weekend, about halfway into our road trip to an undisclosed surprise location, I figured out that Napoli was exactly where we were headed.

So I obviously went more camera-crazy than a Japanese tourist hopped up on potent Neapolitan espresso, and I think I took somewhere around four hundred pictures in two days. Here are a select few to give you an idea of what this crazy city of paradoxes is really like.

A big fortress by the port

The Port of Napoli

Mount Vesuvius

The love their fascists down there

But they love their pizza more!

da Michele!





Digging in!

That look of far off wonderment: Pure Bliss


We switched half way so we'd each try half and half

 After. All gone. Sad face :(

 Michele, circa 1880

Mrs. Michele, I'm guessing.

"da Michele. Master pizza makers since 1980. Only location"

Look at that delicious pile of basil waiting to infuse a Margherita with it's wonderful essence.

Stone and Fire Pizza Oven: Hot As Hell

Friendly pizza makers, posing for a picture

At this point we were stuffed with deliciousness, and so we took a walk around the city (under the broiling midday heat), and saw a little bit of what Napoli had to show us.

really small doors cut out of really big doors,

more people riding without helmets,

National Association of Ardent Italians,
whoever they are,

an old wool factory (lana means wool)

dirty, crowded alleys,

and a big, beautiful gallery,

with mosaics of the astrological signs.
Me next to my sign, Acquario (aquarius)

the center of the gallery,

relaxing angels,

 the pasta sauce display,

via Carbonara!

a sidewalk shrine,

Good day street!

vintage bank signs,

santa bugie (which means "holy lies")

the ghosts of arches
(instead of the golden arches. get it, get it? :)

a university building

So yes, Naples was a special place. It could stand to be scrubbed down a good deal (it really was filthy), but it was delicious, and the people were so unbelievably nice. Everyone we asked for directions took at least ten minutes to explain and make sure we understood, even at noon standing underneath the beating sun. I'm not sure if I'd go back soon, but I definitely recommend da Michele to anyone passing through. It really is amazing, delicious pizza.

Stay tuned for Part II (coming soon), which is the night we spend in Gaeta (a bit up the coast from Naples), and the following day in Sperlonga (a beautiful cliff beach town). 


Morgan said...

Love the pics! That pizza looks amazing.. even at 9 in the morning. :) And the baby on the scooter. CRAZY!

Desiree said...

Love all the pictures!! I'm totally swooning - I want to go to Italy.

Except I don't know about the stealing. Or the trash. Or the smell - wouldn't all that trash smell?

But then again, it's IT-aly! (My favorite movie is Under the Tuscan Sun) :-)

Alyssa said...

so the pizza was good... but was it the best pizza in the world? it looks pretty amazing and authentic! mmm pizza......

it all looks very pretty! was your watch or anything stolen? it would prove your boyfriend right... if nothing bad happened he never gets an opinion on where you travel again :)


J. said...

Thanks for sharing all these photos! I dream of visiting Italy someday... in part to take in the beauty and culture, but really- mainly for the food! :)

Lucia ♥ said...

More camera-crazy than a Japanese tourist? Is that even possible? :D This post made me miss Italy, since it has been quite a while that I last visited that country :) So in the end you didn't make any negative experience with people there or the city itself, or? Can't wait for Part II!

Jesson And Rey Ann said...

love that pizza!

leigh ashley said...

i love these photos julia!! looks like you and your guy had a great time! oh, and that pizza looks killer good!! :)

ohhayitskk said...

I'm so glad you shared these photos. I went to Napoli three+ years ago when I studied abroad, and your trip made me feel like I was right back there again...sigh. Italia!