Italy is filled with cities and towns that have built imposing monuments to the glory and grace of God. Naples is no different except that it appears to have paid for the meal before it was served, as the mosaic at the top of this post depicts (in my imagination). The response from the ill-fed residents is to ignore traffic laws (if there are any), to take what is not theirs from tourists, and to party ferociously into the wee hours. The following video is an example of how hard they have tried to get on the big guy’s good side (Pompey showed, He does not have one):
A satisfactory effort, IMHO.
Stephanie Rogers alerted us to a chapel (no pews) to see some extraordinary sculpture at Cappella Sansevero. This remarkable museum is at the corner of nothing and nowhere. The unadorned exterior is easier to miss than the ticket office with the virtual sign, “Stand here if you do not know how to queue.”
The builder was a Freemason, so all the artwork is filled with symbolism. For instance, a torn book at the veiled mother’s feet symbolizes “a life interrupted.” I had wrongly guessed “an unruly child.” The ability to make stone transparent is amazing. Why not make the walls of cathedrals with this technique to save on staining glass?
In the creepy crypt below stands two bodies with skin and muscle removed to expose an elaborate circulatory system, with eyeballs. The blood vessels, we are told, are so accurate that many have speculated some eerie technique of injection, but that has, thankfully, been discounted.
We next moved on to the archeological museum, filled with really cool stuff from Pompey, a city that shows how much fun life was before being interrupted by Christian modesty and a mountain’s fart. These people were unabashed devotees of sex, with some outstanding variations on an old theme.
But Pompey wasn’t just about sex. There was plenty of mayhem.
The mosaics were outstandingly preserved beneath many feet of volcanic ash. Soon we shall visit the city of Pompey, as it has been gradually uncovered.
One hears questionable claims of marauding bands of pickpockets (don’t rest on my luck), but the threat from vehicular chaos is harder to exaggerate. I found an article on the web that had me laughing until my dinner was cold. Because web pages are unreliably maintained, I have
stolen borrowed the text:
Italians are known as “crazy” drivers, and Naples is infamous for having the “worst” drivers in Italy! However, this is because they simply follow different rules than Americans. Or, more precisely, they only follow one rule:
The First (And Only) Rule of Italian Driving: Do not hit anything that is in front of you.
Corollaries to the First Rule of Italian Driving:
- There are no other “rules.” This means that quaint American rules like “always stop at stoplights/signals”, “stay in your lane”, “don’t drive on the shoulder/sidewalk”, “stop for pedestrians”, “don’t drive in reverse on the highway”, etc. don’t apply—as long as you don’t hit anything/anyone!
- Sometimes this rule is mis-stated as “the car in front has the right of way.” While usually the car behind will get out of the way of the car in front, Italians don’t think of things in terms of “right of way”—it’s just a matter of getting to where you’re going without hitting anyone. For example, if someone is about to cut you off, your job is to let them in…or honk your horn so they know you’re not letting them in. See? No “right of way”—just a practical means to avoid collision.
- Note that you do not own the space in front of (or around) your car in Italy. When cars use this space, Americans perceive this as getting “cut off”, but Italians see this as “no accident, no problem”
- When merging, getting into a traffic circle, changing lanes, or even crossing the street as a pedestrian, you just have to ensure that the cars behind you have sufficient time/space to avoid you.
- Making eye contact means that you see each other and one of you will therefore get out of the way of the other. Since it is often confusing which one will do so, it is often best to avoid eye contact.
I had an embarrassing moment right after the museum when I dropped into a small men’s shop to find a couple of shirts that were exactly what I wanted—cheap. In fact the original price was about six times the “sale” mark, which I guess is called pre-bargaining?
As I considered whether to try a medium or large, the amply bosomed seller snatched the garments from my hands before I could test the sticking strength and handed me an XL! Perfect fit. Very trim. You guys do this on pasta and pizza? Madonna!