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Destination: Naples and the Amalfi Coast
Napoli Ever After
The acute stages are easy to diagnose: the symptoms cry out. Utter the words Bay of Naples, Positano, or Capri, and patients will close their eyes and sigh -- or roll their eyeballs and moan. If it's an advanced case, they will embark on a monologue in which you will be able to discern such phrases and fragments as "the lure of the Mediterranean," "the magic of the Southern sun," "water that outsapphires the jewels at Tiffany's," "the song of the sirens." Every ailment -- physical, mental, or social -- reflects a need. Acute and widespread Campania mania -- the hopeless infatuation with Campania and its myriad sun-wreathed resorts and starlighted isles -- simply proves (with or without spots) that there is something in the organism, blood, and mental makeup of every modern-day escapist that requires a good dose of this relentlessly romantic corner of the world.
It has been this way ever since the Roman emperors escaped overheated Rome by building pleasure palaces around the Bay of Naples -- and, in the process, inventing the very idea of the vacation. Back then, some Roman travel agent urged his countrymen to "See Naples and Die." Ever since, up to today, this pithy phrase has been interpreted in contrasting, equally viable ways. Lovers of Naples, asking what there is on earth that you can't find here, get the slogan's true meaning. The hard-liners, noting the murderous traffic, Mafia doings, ever-present threat of Vesuvius erupting, and the region's earthquakey history, say, "See Naples and die." As it turns out, the saying originally advised travelers to visit the city on the bay, then check out the nearby town of Mori (Latin for "to die"). And it is in this sense that this guidebook proceeds. It is simply a given that you must first explore this relentlessly fascinating city, then move on to the rest of Campania, a province that stacks snazzy resorts, grandly Baroque palaces, Edenic gardens, the most satisfying hundred miles of coastline to be found in tourist Europe, and some of the oldest ruins this side of Constantinople into one mammoth must-see sandwich.
However, if you limit your tour to Sorrento, Ravello, Capri, Ischia, Positano, Pompeii, and Amalfi, you will "see" Campania, but you won't understand it. To do that, you must get to know Naples itself. Most guidebooks approach this capital of Campania with a degree of circumspection, treating her as the cousin who would be presentable if only she toned down her makeup, watched her mouth, and didn't try to palm her date's wallet. But it could also have something to do with the array of things to see in Naples: the supreme, sun-drunk, natural setting with Dame Vesuvius tapping her feet across the Bay of Naples; the richest museum of Greco-Roman antiquities in the world; one of the finest collections of Renaissance paintings; outstanding examples of architecture from medieval to modern; and a kaleidoscope of colorful vignettes. But you don't come to Naples to see things, as such; you come to Naples to be. Naples is a kinetic gust of 3-D garlic-and-basil aromatherapy for the soul, a vital and revitalizing splash of reality; Naples is rediscovering the "simple things" and finding them exalted into ecstasies of complication; Naples is fluidity among stasis, fertility spawning misery, infinite intelligence circumventing colossal stupidity. Naples is intense, and intensely poetic. Naples doesn't need defending -- it does that quite well by itself, thank you. And it is not rational, despite the many grids that various rulers vainly laid down to tame it. Naples is about falling in love, not blindly -- that wouldn't last long, in any case -- but instead by having your senses and sensibilities shamelessly charmed into full bloom.
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Book Description Fodor's, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110679004572
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-0679004572
Book Description Fodor's, 2000. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0679004572