Naples is acid, and so am I
The walk from the guesthouse to the university is pitiless. There is no poetry in what I see. Things are as they are. No exoticism added. Napoli is a city of nicotine-addicted people with a female population covered by too much make-up. It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and the smell of pastries already mixes with that of deep fried food.
The show is striking: girls with specific aesthetic criteria (sport outfit plus boots plus lipstick plus fake blond hair), and women, heaps of smoking women deprived of any elegance. And then all the people stationing outside coffee shops and other small, unidentifiable commercial activities – people with no apparent purpose in life, always busy greeting acquaintances or opening a new packet of cigarettes. Yellow fingers and hideous teeth.
It seems I’ve spent a life in this city: 15 years gravitating to the university and the placid life of a department doomed to die. Survival doesn’t mean life: when things are about to collapse some people try to procrastinate the decline by making a living out of it. Decadence as a sort of exit music, and (unrecognised) failure as a sort of exit strategy.
The bread – the traditional one you find in any small food store – is delicious: crusty outside (tick dark-brown crust), soft (a tough softness!) inside, and slightly acid. Olive oil and bread: I really can’t wash this taste out – tried with the bottle of Ballantine’s I found in the guesthouse, but it didn’t work (not a strong drinker).
04:30 AM. I go running before the air gets unbreathable. The city is silent, some cats fight in the dark. It’s the 20th of November and the temperature is unbearably hot. The sequence is a déjà vu: the Nigerian prostitute on Corso Umberto, the digital clock of the bar near Palazzo del Mediterraneo, via Marina towards Beverello and then onward to Mergellina and back.
One night I put my jeans on and take a stroll with my Nikon, and then I’m gone.