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Naples from Parco di Capodimonte

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8ea/67603008/files/2014/12/img_1307.jpgDowntown Naples as seen from Capodimonte yesterday.

Unfortunately the large park behind the old Royal Palace was closed to visitors but there was still the opportunity for a Sunday stroll to walk off some of the Christmas turkey.

As you can see, the weather has taken a colder turn and rain was in the air – fa freddo!

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Naples, Gentle Parthenope

Castel dell'Ouvo

Seconda patria mia, dolce Sirena,
Parthenope gentil, casta cittade
Nida di leggiadria & nobilitade,
D’ogni vertute & di delicie piena.

‘My second fatherland, sweet Siren,
gentle Parthenope, virtuous city,
nest of loveliness and nobility,
full of every virtue and delight’.

Benedetto Cariteo, Endimione.  1450 – 1514
Picture: Anton Sminck van Pitloo, Castel dell’Ovo dalla spiaggia.  Via Wiki.

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What do Neapolitans eat on Christmas Eve?

In 1866, Carlo Collodi, the Florentine author of Pinocchio, in one of his books apparently described pizza, Naples’ contribution to world cuisine, as ‘a patchwork of greasy filth that harmonizes perfectly with the appearance of the person selling it.’

But there is much, much more about Neapolitan cuisine than just the lazy pizza (and southern Italian) stereotype.  Below are some lovely dishes traditionally eaten in Naples on Christmas Eve, inspired by this list (with recipes) on Napoli Unplugged.  Cena della Vigilia di Natale is a leaner meal, without meat or fat, eaten before midnight Mass.

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A short Naples story for Sunday

‘It was an unforgettable moment. We went towards Via Caracciolo, as the wind grew stronger, the sun brighter. Vesuvius was a delicate pastel-coloured shape, at whose base the whitish stones of the city were piled up, with the earth-coloured slice of the Castel dell’Ovo, and the sea. But what a sea. It was very rough, and loud; the wind took your breath away, pasted your clothes to your body and blew the hair off your forehead. We stayed on the other side of the street in a small crowd, watching the spectacle. The waves rolled in like blue metal tubes carrying an egg white foam on their peaks, then broke into a thousand glittering splinters and came up to the street with an oh of wonder and fear from those watching.’

From My Brilliant Friend by the cult Italian writer Elena Ferrante who writes on Naples.  As this article, Italy’s Great, Mysterious Storyteller, explains:

That Ferrante is a pseudonym, has no public presence, has never been seen, gives her a strange place in Italy, a country obsessed with image, where if you aren’t on television, you barely exist’.

Image:  Storm on Naples seafront during the America’s Cup 2013.

The Longer Read: Naples ’44

‘Neapolitans take their sex lives very seriously indeed.

A woman called Lola, whom I met at the dinner-party given by Signora Gentile, arrived at HQ with some denunciation which went into the waste-paper basket as soon as her back was turned. She then asked if I could help her.  It turned out she had taken a lover who is a captain in the RASC, but as he speaks no single word of Italian, communication can only be carried on by signs, and this gives rise to misunderstanding. Would I agree to interpret for them and settle certain basic matters?

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