Military brat. Born in England to American parents and grew up moving around Europe, from military base to military base, until I was about to graduate high school. Quite a lot has happened in my life since I moved ‘home’ to the United States. A decade later and I am returning ‘home’ to Napoli, Italia a place I lived twice for a total of six years. With the grandparents watching our kids, this time I bring my husband for an adventure on our 9th anniversary.
My husband I in Paris on our 9th Wedding Anniversary 2.8.12
An Adventure it was. No luxury cruises or hotel resorts for this free spirit pair. Off the train in Napoli we met our predicament of finding no place to get a sim card, to a broken pay phone, and no wifi to contact our host upon our arrival. When our taxi driver dropped us off at the address we requested to get to my friends’ home, he dropped us off in the wrong location. Standing in a darkened alley way with all our luggage and absolutely no sense of direction to where we are and where we need to be, our outlook was quite foreboding. Our options were to go further up the winding road, or down the cobblestone street to hopefully a busier area of town. We chose the later and finally found a working pay phone where with our last 50 euro on hand called my friend for a rescue. Bottle of wine later and we are outside on my friend’s veranda overlooking the city of naples, the beautiful bay lit up in lights, and Mt. Vesuvio looking magnificently in the backdrop.
Despite the less than romantic arrival, the majority of our time was seeking out the hidden beauty of the city, savoring every bite of the delicious southern Italian cruising, and capturing the beauty we saw in photographs. An early evening after viewing collections of antiquities excavated from Pompeii at the National Archaeological museum, we were walking through the narrow streets of the city. I was on a high of being surrounded by the sights and sounds of my childhood. With my DSLR safely guarded in my arms, I captured street photography with the ease of my android phone. In the process of taking a photo of a pizza being made at a pizzeria, my phone was grabbed out of my hands. I turned in shock to see an obnoxious grin and then the back of a man as he ran away with my phone down another alleyway. While my head and my feet questioned each other with whether I should run or just scream, the man jumped on a back of a moped with a driver. In less than a minute my phone was stolen and gone out of sight. It was not even the phone that I was upset about but the number of photos I had taken on our journey. So many of them documenting my husband’s first time in Napoli: his first taste of pizza from the birthplace of its creation, his first time on the funicular, an incline railway, and his first time shopping the street markets in Vomero. However our adventurous night did not end there. I had my first time in the back of a police car, as we were whisked away to the nearest police station to make a report on the incident. I regret feeling too comfortable being home in Napoli that I had my phone out at all. Still shaking, I answered the questions using the best of knowledge of the Italian language. I was asked to look at photographs to see if anyone looked like the man who had stolen my phone. Afterwards I can now draw from their questions that they were hoping I would say it was this man in one of the photographs who was wearing a white shirt. However he was the opposite of my initial description. I soon found myself in a small room for a ‘line up’, however the actuality of the situation scared me more than having my phone taken from me in the first place. I stood facing a man, and although a wall with a glass window was in-between us, he was literally inches away from me. He was not the man I had seen. Bloody, amped up on adrenaline, and looking like he could have come out of a Guy Richie film, I looked at the man in the white shirt and instantly the fear kicked me to my core. I wanted to run, to move, to close my eyes. At that moment I was more afraid of him punching through the glass, especially when it was apparent he could hear my words as I spoke ‘Its not him”.
I will be honest I cried when we got back to the room for more questions and information about the scene. I wish now I had checked the photographs on my DSLR. When we had gotten home all the feelings from that night came right back in a spiraling anxiety attack as I found a photo taken minutes before the crime. The man in the white shirt, whom I had been asked to identify, was up ahead of where I was taking photos, talking to a man who very much fit my description of the man who had taken my phone. Bone chilling. Perhaps the other man was just a man, innocent in his own right. However there was no mistaking the man I had to view at the police station, for I cannot get him out of my mind. Whatever he did from when that photo was taken to when I saw him at the police station, I will never know.
I may have been without the ease and connivence of taking photos with my phone, I did however have my camera to document the rest of our trip by and I did not let the incident ruin our time. Perhaps if I had not grown up in Napoli, it would not be the case but I still love my beautiful city. The old buildings, the cobblestoned streets, the laundry hung out all the windows, and the women who lower baskets from tall apartment windows to retrieve recently purchased goods. Inside a cave we visited Fontanelle cemetery, a final resting place for thousands of anonymous corpses. These were victims of the great plague in the 1600s. We took the train to see Pompeii where we too a scenic tour and I did an imprint self portrait session in the ruins. Another day we took the ferry out to Capri and walked around the beautiful island to the Blue Grotto. We spent an evening in Sorrento, eating the best seafood and speggeti of our trip right on the water with an equally refreshing white wine. The best was being able to start every morning and end every day with the beautiful view from where we were staying. It may have taken me many years to return, but no one can take away from me the love I have for the city of Napoli. Ci Vediamo bella Napoli! “