I can still hear the loud voices, see the frantic gestures.
The stereotypical Italian, lives and breathes in the city of Naples.
The older woman hanging laundry on a balcony. The man standing in a cafe door way, wearing a pinstripe blue suit with an impressive belt buckle puffing on his cigar. Vespa’s zig-zagging down cobble stone roads, honking at cars and nearly avoiding collisions.
It’s true what they say, Rome is the heart of Italy, but Naples is its soul.
It’s where grit meets beauty. Chaos meets order. This city is nothing short of a beautiful disaster.
We spent some time on the Amalfi Coast, Poisitano.
Relishing the ocean breeze, the crystal clear water. The villa-lined streets.
Sorrento, the seaside village where I tried octopus for the first time and heard tales of the Sirens that lured Ulysses to the rocky coast.
And Pompeii, the city that Mountain Vesuvius devoured.
Its beautiful remains left as proof of what Roma once was.
But as the night ends, my thoughts go back to Naples.
The streets that spill with life. The red traffic lights that only hang for decorative purposes. The smell of pizza billowing through the air.
In the birth place of pizza, there seems to be an endless debate on the different styles of pizzerias. While walking through the cobble stone streets, I remember hearing an enthusiastic man yelling in accented English.
“Che cosa! The Roman; flat, crispy pie is nothing but a piece of Focaccia with sauce and mozzarella. Pizza is not pizza without the fresh, soft, chewy dough.”
We watched as the man began demonstrating the differences. Hands frantically swaying side to side, and up and down as if he were tossing dough.
The Naples’ pizzerias have made their pizza the same way for centuries. Following a strict code, and even developing a certification that proves authenticity. And after tasting it myself, I admit it’s nothing like the pizza’s found around the United States.
They say, those that choose to stay in their hometown, and never leaving to travel the world are stunted. Failing to achieve their potential. Not having the benefit of reinventing themselves.
Well, luckily in this case, Pizza was given the chance to flourish.
In Naples, Pizza’s hometown, it’s barely cooked dough, with a rich sauce and yummy cheese. Two parts perfection, one part failure. I had to use a fork.
In New York City, the pizza is three parts greatness. Perfectly seasoned sauce, mozzarella, and a sturdy yet flexible crust. One that can be picked up, and folded into a neat triangle.
If I learned anything from Naples.
It’s that you should never put yourself into a box and stay stagnant. Always yearn for something new, and something better. The beautiful walls, and lush waters may seem a perfect reason to stay put, but from where I stand, nothing seems to grow past chaos here.