Naples, City of the Infinite
I’ve written many times on one of my favorite Italian cities, Naples.
A city to celebrate. A city always celebrating. A city of infinite pleasures. A city rich in human interactions. A city of life, of joy: transmitted in the lively, foot-stomping musica napoletana of the ebullient street musicians in the photo above.
I once wrote:
“Si! Naples has its woes. All the world knows about them. Naples has its treasures – and not all are known.” Topping the list? I napoletani.
Like those street musicians, their songs and music beating out their own passione and joy. And like the napoletano shopkeeper mentioned in a past note:
“Where else but in Naples could this happen? On our second day there, we were on our way to lunch at the Trattoria Nennella (a story in itself!) and stopped into a shop selling cellphone chargers (I had left mine at home). I asked the price but balked at 15 E (I’d have my own again the next day). The owner of the store asked me, “Troppo?” (“too much?”). I explained that I was hesitant because I only needed it for the afternoon. After asking where we headed, he told me to enjoy lunch at Nennella’s and to pick up my cellphone on the way back: he’d charge it while were at lunch!”
Naples: where a merchant charges your cellphone for you, thus saving you the price of the chargers HE sells!”
I often think of that Naples merchant, knowing full well that any shopkeeper here in Umbria – and not only – would have sold me the charger; after all, why lose out on the 15 Euro I clearly would have spent?
And what memories of my stop at Pasticceria Scaturichio many years ago: another “esperienza napoletana.” I was just off the metro at the Montesanto stop, having headed there from the Naples train station. Right across from the metro station was the famed Pasticceria Scaturichio: ah, what sfogliatelle.
But a bathroom stop was a first priority so I had asked elderly Pasquale Scaturichio at the cash desk if I could use the facilities before having an espresso, wishing to clarify that there would certainly be a consumo on my part afterwards.
Again, only in Naples: when I came out of the bathroom, he told me with warm ethusiasm as he led me over to the pastry counter, “Signorina, non important se prende un espresso ma deve provrare questi nostri dolci!” (“Miss, it doesn’t matter if you order an espresso but you must try our sweets!”). Signor Pasquale had me taste hot sfogliatelle, just out of the oven – and not only.
On a recent stop at Pasticceria Scaturchio, I shared this memory with the woman at the cash register. She smiled and told me, “I’m not surprised: that sounds like Pasquale.” She told me that Signore Pasquale had died about ten years ago. His nonno – also called “Pasquale” – had founded the pasticceria in 1903 and son Armando now has taken over. “I’m the fourth generation,” he told me proudly in a recent phone call.
Near the espresso machine, a photo of Pasquale at work has the place of honor…
…and nearby, there’s a photo of his son, Armando:
I didn’t recognize the rennovated pasticceria – an Armando project – and its new modern interior:
But the pastries in the glass cases brought back such memories of my first visit there, for Armando and his staff carry on the the Scaturchio pastry traditions:
I noted the axiom stenciled over the espresso machine at Pasticceria Scaturhio: “Non accontentarti dell’orrizonte, cerca l’infinto” (“Don’t settle on the horizon: seek the infinite.”)
Naples, is a city of the infinite: infinite pleasures, joys and discoveries.
I’m already planning my next visit.
Read about Pino Daniele, who synthesized Naples
Read about why I often need a “Naples fix”
Click here to read about a favorite eating spot in Naples
Click here to read about Trattoria Nennella
Read about the extraordinary crib scenes of Naples
Read about the Mediterranean diet in Pompeii frescoes, in the Naples crib scenes