The hashtag of the month was definitely #ferraghosttown and boy was it ever. The streets were deserted and Napoli Town, as the hashtag implies, was an absolute ghost town. Have you ever wandered around a city and felt like you were the only people left alive??? Let me tell you, it is an eerie feeling.
Oddly enough, it was in the midst of this mass exodus, that one of the neighbourhood’s three supermarkets, the Carrefour, decided to go 24 ore su 24, 7 giorni su 7, to include the day and night of Ferragosto. How quickly things change. It was only a year or two ago when they opened “no-stop” from 08.30 to 20.30, forgoing the afternoon “pausa”. In the beginning, this was perfect for me. I would have the place virtually to myself while everyone else was off eating lunch. No elbows to the ribs in the produce aisle, no getting run over by 4 feet tall Neapolitan grandmas near the fish and no jostling for position in the checkout line. The only thing I had to contend with was the buffer lady who would run you over just as soon as look at you. More recently though, the shopping during pausa trend has started to catch on. It is certainly not as crowded as it is about noon, but even still…
It’s fascinating, even exhillirating, and yet sad all at the same time to watch the tug-of-war between tried and true traditions and progress. While many Neapolitans still take at least 2 or 3 weeks in the summer, this too, is slowly changing as more businesses are staying open throughout the entire month of August. The restaurants along the Lungomare were all open for the entire summer and as our favourite waiter explained, “my wife went on vacation this month… I did not.” Still, outside of the main tourist areas the city was quiet, even deserted. And although, as I said, it felt very eerie at times, I never, not even for a moment, felt unsafe.
Which brings me to a very serious subject, one that I know may cause heartache, consternation and may even alienate a few of my faithful followers. As I’ve said in the past, I rarely express my political views on NU or dip my toes into the controversial waters. I prefer to fill these “pages with stories about the history and archaeology I get to wander around in, the breathtaking seascapes and landscapes I soak in everyday, or about the warm, generous and kind people I call my friends.” But every once in a while, I am, in the immortal words of Archie Bunker, unable to “stifle myself”!!!
There is a question I am asked quite often, repeatedly actually, and I never really know how to answer it, especially when it comes from my American compatriots. The question in question??? “Is Naples Safe?”
While pondering this question for the millionth time last week, there was and yet, another incident of gun violence in America. This time, a young man and a young woman, she a reporter, he a camera man, were gunned down near Moneta, Virginia during a live TV broadcast. CNN’s headline read “ ’Radiant,’ ‘delightful’ lives cut short.” Alison Parker was just 24, Adam Ward was just 27. The two, were in the prime of their lives. Their faces, were still filled with all of the hope, promise and innocence that only comes with youth.
As I read the news, an incredible wave of sadness washed over me. The tears, just trickles burning at the corners of my eyes at first, became uncontrollable sobs. I curled up into a ball and wept like a baby while some guttural reaction caused spasms in my stomach. It felt like someone was kicking me over and over again in the gut. And in a way, they were. There have been nearly 900 mass shootings since Sandy Hook (let alone all of the other gun violence) and each time it only pains me worse. In the proverbial words of Peter Finch in Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. To add an Italian bent to it and more simply stated, basta.
We lived in Northern Virginia for 14 years. Part of the DC metro area, we had our fair share of crime to be sure and I never really felt quite safe. Over the years, the neighbouring community of Dale City became known as little DC and even leaving the Potomac Mills Mall after dark seemed a bit of risky business. Just a few hours southwest in rural Virginia however, I’d imagined it to be a different world. Small town USA, this should have been a “safe” enclave. And yet, the innocence of another small community has been shattered along with their hopes and dreams for their children.
Long before mass shootings were all the rage in the US, I had my own brush with a workplace shooting. A disgruntled employee went on a shooting spree in the 10th floor of one of the Jefferson Plaza buildings in Crystal City (Arlington, VA). I found myself hiding in a stairwell with a co-worker until the situation was under control (the shooter shot himself). He was shooting bird shot they said, no-one died, but it was, to say the least, one of the most frightening experiences of my life. Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined anything worse. And then, came 9/11. A year later, came the “Beltway Snipers“, who kept the entire DC metro area terrorised for 3 weeks in October of 2002. That event, was the proverbial straw.
That violence, the constant fear I lived in, they were both part of what I came here to escape. In the 10 years since I’ve left, things have only gotten worse. According to vox.com’s Gun violence in America, in 17 maps and charts, “Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms.” I don’t really want to engage in a debate about guns in America (or maybe I do), but when is enough is enough??? When do we say, “we are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore”. If we are willing to strip down to our underwear to get on a plane, I can’t begin to fathom why, we can’t we get the guns off the streets???
Which brings me back to the question in question, and I still don’t know how to answer it. The first thing that comes to mind is, “compared to what”? an the second thing is, “safe from what?”
Is Naples safe? Chissa? But I feel safer here than anywhere I’ve lived in my life.
Naples In the News
- The day I ordered pizza that ‘doesn’t exist‘ – LOL encounter with a Neapolitan pizzaiola in Bologna
- Tapping Into the Potential of Falanghina – Campania’s Falanghina a surprise to the “experts”
Naples on the Blogs
- Georgie Knaggs takes us underground – Stazione Toledo, Napoli – a handsome metro station
- The Writing on the Walls – Post No Bills
Naples in Video
The Month Ahead
If you didn’t get out and explore Naples miles of beaches and coastlines over the summer, it’s not too late. In fact, you might even enjoy it better now that the crowds have made their exodus. The bathing establishments along the Posillipo coast will remain open for the next month or you can try one of the bathing beaches along Lungomare. Get the best of both worlds – Discover Naples Coastline By Boat. And of course there is the Sorrento Coast, the Amalfi Coast and the Islands of Capri, Ischia & Procida to explore.
There are two big food festivals on the Lungomare this month, Napoli Pizza Village 1 – 6 September and the Bufala Fest 11 – 13 September and there are two interesting new additions to the annual calendar of events in Naples: the Festival of the Orient at Mostra d’Oltre Mare and the Holi Dance Festival in Agnano. And, there are plenty more events for all interests. Holly will be keeping us up to date on all of those.
For the Napoli Expat – the AIWC and the Naples International Happy Hour both return this month. The Happy Hour is tomorrow evening, 19-22 at Barril in Chiaia and the AIWC meets Saturday, 12 September. As usual, there are English language services at Christ Church Naples every Sunday. There is also Cinema in Original Language at the Cinema Academy Astra (presented by CLA – Centro Linguistico di Ateneo) and at Multicinema Modernissimo. Find all of Naples English Speaking events.
And in other news… okay – I still don’t really have any other news as I slowed things down last month and enjoyed the rest of the summer. However, I did manage to get the NU Guide to Naples on Amazon US and the eBook version up on iTunes.
Enjoy the cooler days of September and Happy Labour Day to our American Friends!!!