city of contrasts
See Naples and...
Yes, you’d die if you saw Naples right now. You can still see how beautiful it once was, but the place today is ramshackle, run-down by decades of money poured away into all kinds of illegal cracks as big as the potholes in the streets. The beauty of Naples is obscured by piles of garbage, graffiti and lack of maintenance. And that’s despite my fairytale cover photo having gone viral in Italy...
Going there in a dark and chilly week in February will emphasize the dreary outside (top pictures on the next pages) and the often stunning interior (bottom pictures) for which the Neapolitans do care.
There is mood, hurt and melancholy dripping from every façade in town, even if the purest chocolate is sold from behind it. Or even when - in the case of the Castel Nuovo - the impression is to make you feel unwelcome. You instinctively do a lot of looking up in Naples, especially in the narrow alleys of the old Spanish Quarter. In the Galleria Umberto I. Or in the Duomo. Is that to find God? Or do you long for the freedom of the birds?
There is no need to eye the skies to find multiple effigies of Pino Daniele, today’s Saint of Naples who died much too young in 2015. Everyone sings his songs in the street.
Or they will play a folky tune instead of Pino’s jazz and blues.
Descending towards the Bay of Naples you will find space to breathe. The Vesuvius is never far away, breathtaking from afar, an illegal dump when climbing to the top. The streets grow wider, such as in the city’s high street, the Via Toledo, or on squares like the Piazza del Plebiscito, opening up to former grandeur such as the Palazzo Reale that the city is working hard to restore in its effort to attract more tourism. Again, the interior is to die for...
When rising to a higher level - day or night-time - you will really see why Naples used to be a city of dreams.
Moving even further uphill will take you to the monastery of San Martino. The view is spectacular, its interior splendour will wow you, but even up here the city’s morbid streak will sneak up on you. So, through another twist of fate, you need to go all the way downstairs to find Naples’ new fantasy world, as dreams are now fabricated underground, not in the city’s vast network of catacombs but in its bewildering collection of ‘arty’ metro stations.
But looking down on Naples’ alleys from the top you will find that even the narrowest of streets are vibrating with life. Joyous life.
Or you make your way out of the city, where in Caserta the kings of Naples and Sardinia created a dream world of their own. A smaller Versailles that in modern times became the home of Princess Amidala in a galaxy far away - the royal palace on the planet of Naboo. Yes, you’ve just stumbled onto a Star Wars movie set. And how about roaming the streets of Herculaneum and Pompei, uncovered from the layers of lava under which their exuberance lay buried for centuries. Nothing much has changed...
Opening the curtains hiding the city’s true beauty has made you fall in love with a city that is being restored to its former glory. You will return to a rejuvenated Naples and be truly mesmerised. And then you can die.
Or feel truly alive.
And that cover photo that Italy died for? All over Naples people went looking for the spot, as they couldn’t believe it was for real. Many cried Photoshop, misguided as they were about their own city. When they finally found it they collectively searched for three months before they traced the Dutch guy who took the handheld snap on his way to the supermarket. (Scroll to read the full story.) When the magazine that won the race interviewed me I sparked off a debate about the neglected state of their city, urging them to speed up the process of rebuilding their city and their pride. With my shot I also helped them discover that the prized view on the Bay of Naples could also be seen from the poor Spanish Quarters and not just from the classy neighbourhoods further up the hill. Have you ever taken a photo that led to social awakening? I’m so happy and proud that one of my holiday pics proved to be so much more than that.
Mattijs Diepraam https://www.instagram.com/mdiepraam/ #places #travel #storyoftheday #naples #napoli #italy #italytravel #italia #stelleritalia #city #cityglimpses #crestcontest Made with #panasoniclumix GH3 & G3 and #apple 4S.