June 25, 2012

Mergellina, Naples. October, 1984

When I arrived in Naples for the first time (on an overnight train from Zurich), I experienced a little bit of culture shock. The Swiss follow-the-rules behavior was nowhere in evidence in this anything-goes Southern Italian city. For example, the “don’t throw anything on the tracks” signs in the main train station were almost completely obscured by the mounds of cigarette butts tossed at them. With my Let’s Go guide in hand, I headed by subway to the nearby neighborhood of Mergellina. Less riotous than the centro, it still had the Napoli craziness that I came to love. Cars still did not stop for red lights, which made crossing streets (especially the six-lane route along the waterfront) a challenge. But once across, lovely moments such as this reward the survivor. When I returned to Naples four years later with Nick, we also opted to stay in Mergellina, returning to the same, rather basic family-run place I’d visited before that Nick promptly dubbed the Pensione Squallido.

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