Pizza, mozzarella di bufala cheese, grandma’s ragù, fried food, babbà, sfogliatelle, zeppole and panzerotti.
The food was one of my targets in my travel to Naples and I must admit that this city didn’t disappoint me, although I was not at my best.
It not only fulfilled my expectations, but also taught me the rule at the dinner table:
In naples, nobody eats alone.
As I asked for a single table, the eyes of the waiters seemed like saying to me “It is inconceivable that this young woman is willing to do it, she could do it somewhere else”.
This is what happened: The first night I had arrived in the city a few hours before and I didn’t bear to face the crowd in front of the Pizzeria “Di Matteo” in Via dei Tribunali, and I rather chose the one (more in step with the range of a Bolognese, gipsy but still Bolognese) in front of “Il Presidente”, in the same street.
I waited about half an hour before entering, watching the bystanders: mopeds, super polished nails, extremely displayed elegance, loud voices and free smiles in abundance. While waiting, I start chatting (me, I mean that former bashful little girl) with a 50-year-old couple.
They are splendid and make you think that, still after a concluded marriage, love is again possible – always – and it will make your eyes shine (blue for both of them) more and more. Well, romanticism aside, my two adoptive parents invited me to have dinner together and they bought me the most delicious pizza of my whole life.
Chats, secrets that one just tells to strangers while travelling, hugs.
Have a good life!
And I kept my notebook in the backpack.
The second night I try it again: I brush my hair and I put make up on for my second date with myself at “Lattaro” in Via dei Tribunali, namely Antonio.
I ask for a trencher with mozzarella di bufala cheese, olives filled with almonds and Campania cured meats. Do you want a glass of red wine also? Sure.
So, it’s me, the red lipstick, my notebook, the wine and the trencher.
This image endured just 4 minutes: drunk by the milk of the mozzarella (and by wine) I start to speak with my neighbours, three women travelling. Two of them are from Naples and the other one is an hilarious woman from Tuscany.
Our conversation spreads to two Italian guys working in England: the nerd and his friend Michele. Our laughters are contagious for a couple in the last table and the party starts!
I couldn’t explain how it happened but, suddenly, Antonio, the owner, becomes the director of a romantic theatre improvisation between me and the nerd in love with me – I think it was because of the lipstick! He is giving him advices as a man and philosopher of the alleys of this city, unique in the world for its energy. You must go to eat at Antonio’s. He usually closes at 21:30, but that night at 23:00 we had gathered in a big table, like we were one big family.
In my diary pages I just wrote 4 lines.
The third night I was laughing just thinking about going to have dinner out.
A friend of mine had written me “You must go to Nennella” and it was an advice which combined perfectly with my wish to visit i Quartieri Spagnoli. I arrive there at 19:00 and I enter earning one of the last places of that turn. There are one hundred people waiting outside and the waiters celebrate transmitting – Naples-style volume – reggaeton music, throwing plates on the floor and inviting ladies to dance.
When the time for ordering food arrives, a huge man starts screaming out the menu and the table-mates raise their hands according to the plate they prefer, he counts them and then his colleagues bring us the smoking plates. My Airbnb host had suggested “Pasta e patate, you must eat that”. And so be it. I have pasta e patate, a poor plate made of pasta leftovers, boiled potatoes, melted provola cheese and a little bit of bacon, which lets you imagine the small piece of meat in Sunday meals at the houses of those families living in the historic city centre, with seven children and half a wage.
After having dinner, everybody must go outside and it is the time of the second turn. I sat in the small square in front of the restaurant and…finally, I wrote.
If it’s true that you never feel alone in Naples, it is even truer when you are eating. It is a sacred moment, regardless of the meal quality and price.
Therefore thank you Naples and your people who make you what you are.
The right place to close a wonderful year and celebrate my (first) 30 years old.
See you soon.