Today, along with the university, men, knife etc problems we have had here, there have been articles plastered over the news about the supervolcano at the next metro stop from me becoming active again, and some are expecting an eruption (eruzione) at any point. I assumed people here are used to these panic news articles, but they are all scared too. To be honest, I am now desensitized to the stress here and it seems like another day! The volcano certainly is beautiful, but I really hope it doesn’t erupt…
FINALLY everyone is wearing less layers and breaking out of the scarf and leather jacket look. And finally I feel slightly less like a freak wearing jeans and a vest top. We have had a real ondata di caldo (heatwave) recently, with temperatures up to around 29 degrees. It doesn’t seem to be going either!
When people are nice here, I have learned to really appreciate it. I will return to England a changed woman I am sure. My friend today realized I hadn’t made many notes (appunti) in French and offered to give me his. There are a few angels that walk these streets!
Zona = area
I feel I should mention again that anyone looking to stay in Naples should try to avoid the city center, especially the centro storico where most of the muggings I have heard about have happened. Chiaia is lovely, a little safer and covered in a slightly thinner layer of dirt than the rest of the city. My landlord asked me to recommend his house to other students, but after how he was with me, I will instead recommend the area. There is a park, a beach, festivals and funfares (picture of a bizarre demonic looking rocking horse/cow/thing below) and restaurants.
This means “get a move on” and was shouted at me today when I nearly caused a car accident by trying to cross a road near my house. I have been a bit jumpy since the other days incident, and hesitated slightly when a car didn’t seem to slow down. Here, in the roads, you just need to make a run for it.
= to pull a knife on someone
What I will write about actually happened yesterday, but I had such a lovely time in Sorrento I wanted to keep the posts separate, and I have spent most of the day trying to get my head round what actually happened.
On the train back from Sorrento it was a lot quieter and we found seats. An man sat next to me and started moaning to me about a woman on the train and I made some “mmm” noises and changed the subject. He seemed nice enough, asking about England and saying he liked it there, asking about Naples and reassuring us it wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds. Then, the train stopped at a station for about an hour. It turned out another train had broken down and we were waiting so they could load the passengers onto our one. I said to my friend “at least we are on this train, so we have seats this time!”. At this, the man became furious. He stood up and shouted at me in front of the whole train, and whilst he was shouting, pulled a large, sharp knife out of his bag and pointed it at me. Another man calmed him down. I was too scared to understand what he was saying properly, but the carriages are separate on those trains, so I remained near him for the next hour and a half until he got off. The man who calmed him down then reassured me and I asked what it was the man had been shouting. He told me I didn’t want to know most of it but he wanted kill everyone on the train starting with me. I got my metro back home alone in a very confused state. So much for him saying Naples is safe, with a knife in his bag the whole time.
Today I went to Sorrento with a girl from Reading and it was the BEST time. The trains run on classic Naples logic, with one tiny train running every half an hour that goes to Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Sorrento, so every tourist is jam packed in squished up against each other in the heat for the whole hour and a half journey. But really and truly, it is worth it. I love Sorrento!! I was so happy to have waiters that didn’t hit on me, and to see tourists everywhere that didn’t looked stressed and scared! And there were flowers, and beautiful houses, clean streets and wildlife. I loved wandering around, taking samples of limoncello, sitting by the ports and visiting the Valley of the Mills. Absolutely beautiful, so safe, and I would recommend it to anyone!
I really wish I didn’t have to write a post like this, but it is an important thing to comment on for a real picture into the daily life of Naples.
There is a real, tangible racism here in this city and it has been commented on by every visitor I have had. I absolutely hate it and can’t get my head round it at all. I have never, not once, seen a black or South Asian person doing anything other than selling illegally on the streets. But it is the little things that make the saddest. On the tube, if a black person sits next to an Italian person, they will move, even if it means they have to stand up. If the only free seat is next to a black person, nobody, except me, will take it. I am assuming that the Italians think that they have a bad reputation, but it is ironic, because in my experience, it is the Italians here that have tried to steal from me, approach me aggressively and been rude to me. And I have had nothing but kindness from almost everyone else. I wish there was more I could do to thwart this horrible mindset, but the only thing I can think to do are tiny things, like not moving on the tube, making small talk, and showing them that there are some people in this city that are happy that they are there.
Appelli is what exams are called here, since they mostly do them as orals. I have never done a spoken exam for a history course before so I am pretty nervous! The next step will be working out when the exams are and how to sign up for them. They take place all throughout the summer in Italy and as far as I know, you sign up for whichever you want. However, my french teacher has said she “can’t make” the exam date she gave us in June, which means I will have to stay on an extra ten days or so to do it, once she decides when she is free…
This means to make a toast, or I suppose, to “cheers” in Neapolitan. This is a very complicated, carefully choreographed system of words that I cannot begin to explain so I have found a video that does it for me: