The Best Damn Pizza in the World
Posted: Sep 19, 2003 4:22:17 PM
Those of you that have been reading the comments at the end of each report will be aware of the tangle that is (was) my plans for Tunisia. Had I discovered three days earlier, or in fact any time before now, that I needed to apply directly to the country and have a visa mailed back, I would now be on my way there. I tried my best to wrangle a way around it (even spent a morning hunting down the Tunisian Consulate in Naples) but there was nothing possible.
So the plans to see Carthage (I was going to buy a pottle of salt to spread around while invoking 'Carthago Delendum Est' in funereal tones) and to ride a camel into the Sahara are dust, at least for this trip, and I was left with a potentially useless ticket taking me from Tunis to Edinburgh.
To get around this second half, I had to deal with Lufthansa, which left me a little worried. Technically I'm not allowed to change routes on this ticket plan, and I was unsure whether the German proclivity to stick to the rules would be outweighed by the German friendliness and willingness to help travellers in distress. You may not have heard of the second type, but given that I have more offers of beds (or spaces on the floor) in Germany than in anywhere else in Europe, I think it's well warranted.
I phoned up a couple of days ago, told them my sob story, and they said they'd see what they could do. Today I phoned back, and they have blessedly agreed to change the flight from Tunis for one departing from ... Rome! So I will dash back up through the boot on the 30th of September, and fly out of Rome, then catch the same flight I was supposed to from Frankfurt to Edinburgh.
So, it's all sorted! I just have a lot of train travel ahead of me if I still want to see Sicily and Malta. But that I can (hopefully) handle.
I have managed to do quite a bit in Naples, mainly because I've been stuck here waiting to see what Lufthansa had to say, and still sitting out (literally) the Turkish Belly. I have explored Pompeii and Herculaneum (the second was better for me because it was much less crowded and much more compact and navigable, although both were impressive), I have wandered through the Museo Archelogico Nazionale (the gabinetto segreto - full of lewd and lascivious Roman art and artefacts - was a highlight), I have taken a tour through the world-famous Teatro San Carlo (although its perfect acoustics meant that the guide was frequently interrupted by the renovators).
I've also been reading Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' in the quiet times, and that in itself is an experience. It is really something to read about the Knight of the Doleful Countenance talk about Naples, and then in a flash realise that he's talking about the city that you're in right now. And then, while wandering through the Palazzo Reale, to discover a whole room dedicated to 18th century paintings dedicated to that same knight, including some that inspired the picture that graces your copy's cover. I'm in the thick of it here, really. And I love it.
Today is an important day in the Neapolitan calendar: the festival of the city's patron saint, Januarius (San Genaro). I visited the morning service at the Duomo, a church which is notable for containing his head and some containers of his blood. Apparently, in times of trouble, the congealed blood will return to a liquid-state and save the city (very helpful, especially if the omnipresent Mt. Vesuvius decides to go Pompeii on their asses again). The service was packed, and the Duomo amazingly beautiful. People say that I will be all churched-out by the end of the trip, there being so many amazing houses of worship in Europe to see, and I have to say that this one will be hard to top. But we'll see.
Today I am happy to say that San Genaro seems to have interceded with Turkey, and I am finally regaining some kind of appetite. If you could see me now you may be rather alarmed at how much weight I have lost in the past month - for the last week and a half I have eaten on average one sandwich a day, plus a lot of water and soft drink, and as I have been walking almost everywhere that has left me decidedly gaunt. And it is such torture, given that Turkey and Italy are perhaps two of the best places in the world to eat.
Today I resolved to have a proper meal, and so went to the best damn pizza place in the whole world. Or so I'm informed - Naples is the home of pizza and pasta, and this place (Da Michele) is supposed to be the best pizza in Naples, having won Italian restaurant of the year in 2001. It has been open for more years than New Zealand has existed as a country. Cool.
How was the pizza? Very good, but I learned something about not eating for a long time. It has a tendency to shrink your stomach quite dramatically. I did nothing quite so dramatic as throw up in the middle of the restaurant, but it was a close thing, and one I'd not like to repeat. I hope they weren't offended that I didn't finish my whole meal, and at least I have another good story to add to the travel repertoire.
Tomorrow I'm heading off the mainland to Sicily, where I will only be able to spend a precious few days before ferrying over to Malta. Much of Sicily has been lost because I had to wait here to hear back from Lufthansa, and now I'll need to make my way right back up to Rome at the end of the month, but I'm not complaining. Because my appetite is back (albeit diminished), I have my transportation sorted out (albeit long and arduous), I've got my mojo working (so to speak), and things are looking peachy again.
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