Day 7 Thursday 28 December
city had come back to life after the Christmas break, and the streets
were again full of traffic. Neapolitan drivers (there are 400,000
of them, plus 2,186 taxi drivers) sound their horns regularly as
a matter of course, just to see if they are still working. Red lights
and stop signs appear to be only suggestions the
cartoon on the
right says: "Neapolitan drivers take no notice of traffic lights ... stopping
at one costs more than a fine!" They have 1,700km of roads
to drive on, more than Dublin but less than the 3,000km in Rome
While we're talking statistics, here's a few more (from 2 to 3
years ago): Naples has an area of 117 sq. km., compared to Dublin
city's 114, but has a population of just over 1 million, compared to Dublin
city's 482,000 (however, Dublin's is growing fast, while Naples' is decreasing). Naples has 430,000 unemployed, compared to around
less than 20,000 for Dublin. Dublin received about 3 million tourists in
1998, compared to Naple's 1.8 million. There were 171 homicides in 1998
in Naples, compared to 40 in Ireland in 1999.
Naples is Scooter Heaven, but scooter owners don't like to be
on their Vespas. On every street you see at least two on a Vespa, and
often the whole
family is squeezed up there on the PX model.
of today was spent around Piazza Municipio. Visited Feltrinelli's
excellent bookshop near the Via Roma, where I spent a couple of
hours. I read recently that the founder and owner of this chain of bookshops was found dead beside an electricity pylon, back in the seventies, apparently having fallen while trying to blow it up with explosives. Left-wingers claimed that his murder was engineered by extreme right-wingers, and his body dumped there. The truth may never be known.
After lunch at a nearby cafe, I headed to Cafe Gambrinus on Piazza Plebiscito,
reputedly a haunt of the local intelligentsia, for coffee ( "tazzulella e cafè") and a
quiet read of the paper.
That evening I went to one of the few
late-night bars with some friends
(right). Up until a few years ago this bar was, among the cognoscenti, a popular late-night meeting place for night-owls. This attracted drug-dealers. Neighbours complained, first to the police, who clamped down periodically, but most of the time did nothing, and then to the Camorra, who effectively got rid of not only the drug-dealers but every one else who came here for a good time. Now those times are just a fading memory.
Later some Somalian friends from the old days came
in, and as is often the case, after a few beers an argument broke out among them, so I had to leave them to it, arguing as only Somalians can.