Naples: a different view (with which I was so enthralled that I nearly got left behind)

May 21, 2009 at 11:02 am (Italian journey, Italy, Travel, Uncategorized)

On our first, and as it turned out, only full day in Naples, we were bused through Chiaia an upmarket area in the city’s Western District.  After the previous day’s exciting though bewildering impromptu tour, this place was a revelation to me: turns out  there are good and not-so-good neighborhoods in Naples, as in so many American cities.

[I’d like to say at this point that I’ve had some difficulty ascertaining which names rightly belong to which places. I apologize in advance for any errors on my part and welcome corrections from anyone who possesses more precise information.]

In Chiaia we saw lovely, gracious (and graffiti-free) buildings which, according to Nadia, our guide for the morning, used to be private residences but have now been broken up into flats and offices. While these were on our right, a beautiful park, the Villa Comunale, appeared on our left. Lovely plantings and gently swaying palm trees alternated with statues of classical gods and heroes. This was the first of many instances in which I wanted to shout, “Stop the bus! I want to get out and have a closer look.” But it was not to be – not until we reached the waterfront.

The weather was gorgeous. We descended from the bus for this picture-taking opportunity. To our left was an island on which stands the  the Egg Castle,  about which more in a moment.

egg-castle1

To our right, the hill of Posillipo sloped gently down to the sea. And before us sparkled the blue water of the bay.

posillipoAt that point, I had one of those mini-epiphanies that occur when things are just too perfect. “This,” I exclaimed to no one in particular, “this is why we put up with airport delays, traffic, and all the rest of it – to be in a place like this!” So there was I, in raptures, snapping pictures like crazy, and when I finally turned around, all the folks in this picture – I mean every one of them – had disappeared!

tour-people

Somehow I never heard the call to get back on the bus. Presumably someone would have come back out to inform me that my transport was leaving…

Meanwhile, what’s the story on the so-called Egg Castle? Here’s Jordan Lancaster (In the Shadow of Vesuvius):

“Legend has it that the Roman poet Virgil hid an egg in a secret location in the castle on the island of Megaris, known as Castel dell’Ovo, the Egg Castle.  The destiny of the castle, together with that of the entire city of Naples, is linked to the egg. As long as the egg is safe, the city of Naples is said to be protected by Virgil’s magic powers.

There’s more:

“References to a messianic figure, a young boy who would change the course of the world, are contained in Virgil’s prohpetic Eclogue IV.This legend grew and was embellished until Vigil gained a reputation as a magician or wizard.

Virgil’s tomb is purportedly located in Naples near the entrance to the crypta napolitana, a tunnel over two thousand feet long that runs beneath Posillipo. The poet himself is said to have excavated this underground space in a single night!

Virgil's tomb (Wikipedia)

Virgil's tomb (Wikipedia)

Castel dell'Ovo

Castel dell'Ovo

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