April 20th – Happy 2nd Anniversary!

And it was a great one! Today we walked ALL OVER Napoli. Our hotel is in an amazing, central location – La Ciligena – I’d definitely recommend it! I read about Villa Floridiana and really wanted to see the beautiful scenery I had read about. We decided to walk there but had no idea what we got ourselves into. The google maps said it was a 39 minute walk, but it didn’t tell us it was pretty much straight up. Dan estimates we walked the equivalent to 15 times the art museum stairs, some times more steep. We walked up and up and up and realized we went too far up. Shemas. We back tracked, found Villa Floridiana, and…it was closed.

We took the train to Dan’s family’s hometown outside of the city and cousin Enzo and his son Antonio picked us up and took us back to his house where his wife Rosa, daughter Theresa, Zio Tonino and Pasquale were waiting for us. I wasn’t as tired today as I was yesterday and after spending a day and a half here, my understanding of Italian was slightly better, so I was more involved in the conversation. It was a night of sharing photos, stories, videos, and our lives. Dan made a new friend in Antonio; he’s probably about 7 years old and they were fast friends. It was really cute to see them interacting, Dan helping Antonio with his English homework and Antonio rapping his favorite songs for us. We got to see video of Theresa’s dance recital where her team won first place – very impressive! What was also impressive was the spread that Rosa put out for us. Mozzarella, proscuitto, salami, ricotta, olives, bread – I could have had only that, but it was followed by pork sausage with insanely delicious mushrooms. And desserts and drinks. Not only did we indulge in the delicious food, but also in each other’s company.

The cheese that was served by Rosa deserves it’s own paragraph; really it deserves an award, but this will have to do. I saw Pasquale take the first bite of the milky, soft cheese – he closed his eyes, got very serious, as he does, and said to me – “Not like at home.” I wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. I whispered to him privately, “Is it good?” He loudly scoffed, “EAT!” I scooped my mozzarella ball out of the pool of milk, cut into it so delicately and with the milk oozing out, the creamy deliciousness went into my mouth and nothing will ever be the same. How am I supposed to eat mozzarella from home anymore?? This cheese was like nothing I have had before. I wish I could share it with you. The ricotta that was served was also nothing like the ricotta that we have at home, it was smooth, creamy and exactly what I never knew it should taste like.

Some observations:

People said driving here was crazy, but I didn’t really understand what they meant. It is insane. Rules of the road? Fuhgedaboudit. Why they even have stop signs up, I don’t know because I haven’t seen one car stop. It is all about just getting in there and being aggressive – go, go, go. And pedestrians do not have the right of way. Ever. Even when the sign says it’s ok to walk. I was on the “sidewalk” and almost had my foot run over by a car who cut the corner super tight. Dan had a person who was on a motorcycle brush him. I thought we got close in Philly, but this is on another level.

On the other hand, people walking are frustratingly slow. I know I walk fast, but the people here just leisurely stroll at a snail’s pace. The city is hopping! Philly isn’t nearly as busy – it was more like Manhattan, but without the bustle. There is plenty of hustle. There are peddlers all over trying to get you to buy a selfie stick or some other chatchke.

People don’t smile at each other. I have a habit of smiling at people and I’m realizing that it gives me away as a foreigner. Must stop too being friendly.

There are more apartment buildings here than single homes by a huge margin, but everyone has outdoor space, even if it is only a little balcony.

We’ve been to two Italian homes and I noticed some interesting differences from home. Both homes here had bidets in the bathrooms which is something that I had previously thought was “high-class” instead of normal. Both houses the living room is not utilized – the kitchen has the TV and the couch. It makes complete sense and I now want to rearrange the downstairs of my house. Another thing that I really liked is that they both had hot plates outside where they do their frying so it doesn’t smell in the house from the cooking – brilliant!