Italy Today

A few tips to understand Naples

How to survive in this chaotic city driven by “life and death"

A few tips to understand Naples

Claudia Astarita


A few weeks ago, The New York Times wrote an interesting article in which it was said that "it doesn't take long to understand Naples." According to the reporter, this  extremely chaotic city is driven by "life and death", as in Naples are used to coexist "unruly traffic, honking horns, locals shouting in thick dialect across alleys lined with wet laundry, past racy black lace garters on display in shop windows, shrines to the Madonna with blue neon and plastic flowers set into palazzo walls, churches decorated with carved skulls, women squeezed into their shirts and spike heels, immigrants selling knockoff bags, helmetless teenagers on mopeds racing the wrong way down slippery one-way streets." Further, it is broadly known that all these crazy details are night & day embraced by strong smells coming from "coffee, fried dough, fresh clams and the breeze blowing in from the sea."

While introducing Naples as a city that "has seen it all, [and] survived most of it," The New York Times reporter continues stressing that Naples has the power to win the hearth of all the people who find the time and the patience to explore it. Indeed, the "earthy, squalid, slightly menacing Naples" is introduced as "one of the most romantic cities in the world," but also "a surefire adrenaline rush, a slap in the face, a semifailed state." A place that, beyond seducing, it is always able to surprise its visitors as well as its citizens.

Like and probably more than many other big cities in Italy, Naples is a place where the city's past sometimes seems to shine brighter than its present. Actually, it should be remembered that it was only after Italy's unification in the mid-19th century that living standards and per capita income in the South started slowing down compared to the one registered in the Northern regions.

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