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Mussolini made the trains run on time

On a very sunny Saturday Joel, Raffaele and I took a morning train to Naples.  I’ve always wanted to see it and last year Joel didn’t get to go very many places because of my broken foot, so we’re off.  I asked Raffaele to join us because I could not imagine wandering around there in the heat and not knowing how to get anywhere. The night before I told Raffaele what I wanted to see and we planned accordingly.

We got on the train in Telese and changed in Caserta for a train To Naples. No one collected out tickets. When we arrived at the station Raffaele said we should buy tickets for the underground so we would not have to so much walking.  The underground line we needed wasn’t running! We were told to take a bus across the street.  We waited and waited and waited and waited as many buses stopped and picked up people but none were the right bus for us.  Finally it arrived and it was insane to try to get on the bus. Even a rush hour Number 6 subway doesn’t get this jammed. A young man offered me his seat which meant he had to stand but not on the floor, the seats are slightly raised so he teetered on the edge. More people tried to get and at each stop people on the bus yelled at them to get off the doors would not close! Then the man sitting next to me brings a photo up on his phone and points to a man standing just in front of Raffaele- He is a known pickpocket and the police publish his photo to warn the public, OMG.  No tickets were collected.

I wanted to see The Veiled Christ, so after buying tickets, we stood in line. Once in you are warned repeatedly not to take any photos.

Magnificent Sculpture
The Veiled Christ
Giuseppe Sanmartino

It was a very moving experience – you slowly circled the roped off sculpture with a small group of people (they only allow so many in at a time) and you hear the intake of breaths, and the exclamations as the viewers see the extraordinary artistry of this piece.; The veil with its myriad delicate folds and draping, then the hands, then the bones  and the veins and you marvel at how this could have been done out of marble?

After that we needed to ground ourselves with some food, so we stopped at Toto and Peppino’s, a nice little restaurant where we could sit outside in the shade and have some pizza (what else?) and insalata.  FYI Toto and Peppino were a famous Italian pair of comedic actors much like Abbott and Costello.

Next,  The National Archeological Museum Of Naples.  I said I only wanted to see the Pompeii exhibit, however, apparently we had to walk through some sculptures of god and goddesses which were impressive.  I think Raffaele was disappointed in my lack of enthusiasm for the sculpture so I had to play the sort of American no European really likes, and tell him about Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York and how it is FILLED with sculpture and paintings that I have seen many times.  He, however, was curious about the MET. Was it larger than this? Yes very much so. Does it have other cultures represented? Yes, floors dedicated to ancient civilizations, whole wings of Medieval armory, Egyptian pyramids, and on and on. I think I will send him a book about our wonderful museum.

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You can see the burned areas of the mosaic

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Quite intact mosaic

I was actually not pleased the Pompeii exhibit since it was primarily a lot of paintings and mosaics, all marvelous and obviously salvaged from the homes of wealthy Pompeiians.  I had hoped to see every day household items.  However there was one glass case filled with the most amazing measuring instruments.  There were brass ball plumb lines,  a primitive form of a protractor and other devices used in far future centuries.

There was also some erotic art on display along with some instruments of torture and a box full of anatomical body parts used to beseech the gods for various favors such as childbirth.

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Sex has been around a long time

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Zeus misbehaving as a swan

Then we have Zeus who liked to,transform  himself into various creatures and disguises so he could have his way with women, presumably those who were married to some mortal man.

We still had two churches to go and the famed Christmas Alley ( where all the the tchotchkes are sold and some of the Neoplolitan Christmas figurines.

First stop Chiese di Gesu Nuevo; This is by far the most baroque church I have ever been in.  It is overwhelmingly gilded and marbled and is that all in the name of glory to God? Neither Joel or Raffaele loved it.  I thought it was an over the top statement for sure but there was wedding about to be held when we were there. The whit carpet was rolled out, the altar was full of white flowers and I think that bride was one fortunate girl to have her wedding performed in such a grand place.

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The Church of New Jesus Gesu Nuevo

At the other end of the spiritual expression of faith was the Chiese de Santa Chiara.  A lovely church, simple and dignified yet filled with spectacular stained glass windows, of which there was none in the baroque church.  AND there was wedding about to be held here too.  We saw the bride outside the church with her father and respectively waited till the bridal party made their way down the aisle and we followed them in.  Sitting off to the side we listened to the Mass in Italian and it was beautiful.

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Joel in Santa Chiara’s Church

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Saint Chiara above the altar Beautiful,stained glass

After a swift trip through Christmas Alley looking and poking through booth after booth pretty much selling the same things, we headed to the train station.  Our route took us down an infamous street named Forchella, an area known for the black market  cigarette trade now, but gangland shootings in the days when the camorra ruled the neighborhood.  I saw women with wooden boxes with lids hawking cigarettes and then when the siren of the approaching polizia could be heard as he tried vainly to get his vehicle up the street, the lids closed! The police had difficulty coming up the street because the people, the cars and the ever-present motorcycles did not open a path for it.

Finally on the train to Caserta.  At Caserta we were to connect to Telese BUT no train.  We waited and waited and waited and finally Raffaele tracked (pun intended) down an official who explained that the train was late due to police action farther back on the line. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes….the train arrives and we are on our way home, it is late, dark and we’re hungry.

Oh well, they said, Mussolini made the trains run on time!

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

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