I spent three nights in Napoli, but didn’t really get far under the city’s skin. In as few words as possible, I was not charmed by the city. I’ve generously chosen to use a picture of one of its neo-classical piazzas for the featured image in this post rather than a pile of decomposing trash on the sidewalk but it was a near thing. I did wander around and find some beautiful spaces in Naples but they were all private spaces – courtyard, university building, library, palazzo, museum, even shopping galleria – the city streets were dirty, crowded and just a little scary particularly after dark. I’ve never seen so much graffiti anywhere and it was by far the dirtiest city i’ve been to in the so-called first world. Still, every place deserves its exploration – here are the things I chose to photograph from my few days in Naples. I was happy to set off after just a few days for the exotic south and the island of Sicily.
Much of the city is still a medieval tangle of streets
The only open spaces being interior courtyards.
All thorofares with the exception of a few main roads, are very narrow and the street is shared by pedestrians, mopeds and cars.
The courtyard of the regional arts school was a literal breath of fresh are.
Inspiration or left over class project?
Students, everywhere, hang out on steps. These steps seemed particularly suited to the task.
The Archaeology museum was another clean, quiet, interior space which provided a refuge from the street.
Once a palace, then a university building, its a little under-filled as a museum but has many interesting pieces from antiquity.
I rather think who ever carved this statue had never actually seen a dolphin.
Wikipedia claims this folk tale as a possible origin story for this ancient statue: ” Once upon a time a farmer had two beautiful daughters. One day these girls, getting into a dispute as to which one had a more beautiful backside, went out onto the public street. And by chance a young man was passing by, the son of a rich old man. They showed themselves to him, and when he saw them he voted in favor of the older girl. And in fact, falling in love with her, when he got back to town, he took to his bed and told his younger brother everything that had happened. And the younger brother also went to the country and saw the girls, and he fell in love with the other daughter. And so when the boys’ father tried to get them to marry someone of the upper classes, he couldn’t persuade his sons, and so he brought the girls in from the country, with their father’s permission, and married them to his sons.”
The city of Naples got a huge facelift during the 18th century when it became a popular costal stop on the Grand Tour of British citizens visiting the continent to pick up a little culture. Many of the piazzas and palazzi date from that period and share the same general form.
The volcano and the palazzo real together.
The Palazzo is decorated with a number of silly hat club members. Maybe the greeks had it right when they posed all their statue subjects sans clothing.
This stair was just lovely. Talk about your processional entry. The majority of the Palazzo Reale was closed for the day but I snapped this picture past some event workers who were carrying in chairs and tables.
I did get to see the interior of the building anyway, by visiting the national library housed in the other wing.
A plethora of beautiful book spaces occupied me all afternoon.
I was particularly drawn to the spiral staircases which adorned the corners of every room.
The view across the bay of Naples.
But the constant grime and tagging in every public space was very offputting to me.
Homeless people slept everywhere during the day.
Graffiti adorned most of the marble within arms reach and the smells were horrendus.
I understand that in 2011 ANOTHER garbage collection strike had citizens burning their trash in the streets.
Small wonder that there were many arcaded shopping areas
Ciao Naples. I never really knew you.