Tagged: naples

What I’m reading.

Roman copy of a 5th Century BCE Greek bas relief depicting Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice, from the Museo Arqueologico Nazionale in Naples. (Image courtesy of Skidmore.)

A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. Page 214 (from the first Anchor Books edition):

He sensed the proximity of the Orpheus and Eurydice before he saw it, felt its cool weight across the room but prolonged the time before he faced it, reminding himself of the events leading up to the moment it described: Orpheus and Eurydice in love and newly married; Eurydice dying of a snakebite while fleeing the advances of a shepherd; Orpheus descending to the underworld, filling its dank corridors with music from his lyre as he sang of his longing for his wife; Pluto granting Eurydice’s release from death on the sole condition that Orpheus not look back at her during their ascent. And then the hapless instant when, out of fear for his bride as she stumbled in the passage, Orpheus forgot himself and turned.

Ted stepped toward the relief. He felt as if he’d walked inside it, so completely did it enclose and affect him. It was the moment before Eurydice must descend to the underworld a second time, when she and Orpheus are saying goodbye. What moved Ted, mashed some delicate glassware in his chest, was the quiet of their interaction, the absence of trauma or tears as they gazed at each other, touching gently. He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeakable knowledge that everything is lost.

The Digest. 11.15.10.

Train graff in Naples, Italy, 2009. (Photo by C-M.)

The Digest. 08.02.10.

Wedding Day. (By C-M.)

The Digest. 05.08.09

Statue of an Ephebe as a Lampbearer, on loan from the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, at the Getty Villa. More about this statue here. (Image courtesy of the Getty.)

Calendar. 04.30.09.

Detail of a Roman-era micro-mosaic of a satyr and a nymph, unearthed in Pompeii, at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. (Photo by C-M.)

The Digest. 04.29.09.

Kaf in Naples. (Photo by C-M.)

The Digest. 04.26.09.

A nymph takes a satyr to task at the National Archeological Museum in Naples; Herculaneum, circa 1st century A.D. (Photo by C-M.)

Naples: Where low climbed out of a volcano and whupped high upside the head.

Pan and the Goat: The Romans had remarkable taste in garden statuary, such as this 24″ high marble depiction of Pan getting frisky with a member of the genus Capra at the National Archaeological Museum. (Photos by San Suzie.)

Despite warnings in every Italian guidebook that we would be pick-pocketed, run over by a motorino, threatened by camorristi, or just plain hosed by restaurant owners and taxi drivers, last weekend we decided to go to Naples to pay homage to the birthplace of the pizza and the baba au rum. A 2,800 year-old seaport founded by the Greeks, conquered by the Romans, Spaniards and Bourbons (the Neapolitans are quick to tell you that they are a thousand years older than Rome), Naples is the veritable promised land of high and low culture. It’s a place where you can see two of the greatest Caravaggio masterpieces (1 and 2) within a stone’s throw of graffiti-covered baroque buildings whose stucco is literally falling to the ground.

Our plan was to grab a few of the sublime slices at the nearly 300-year-old Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba and then head over to the archaeological museum to ogle the Roman pornographic art — contained in a titillatingly hilarious permanent display known as the Secret Cabinet. (Boy, did we get an eyeful!) In addition to admiring all the ancient erections, there were plenty of other things to take in during our visit to Naples as well: the glittering Mediterranean, the medieval castles (complete with round turrets and crenelated tops), the volcano that destroyed Pompeii and the hundreds of cioccolato caldo stands where you can stuff your face with sfogliatelle, ricotta cheesecake, and mini-babas for about $2.

In Naples, you can not only see the life-sized bust that houses the actual lopped-off head of San Gennaro (a.k.a. Saint Januarius) at the Duomo, but also admire a vial of his blood that miraculously liquifies at various times of the year. All this in a city where motorino drivers, piled three to a bike, drive so unnervingly fast, you are encouraged to look both ways even when crossing the sidewalk — or face a martyrdom of your own.

Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.

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