Back in Naples' chaotic crowd

We have been in Ischia for a week, the green island in the Bay of Naples, and are now standing on the quay in Naples, where we'll spend the remaining days of our holiday - in Naples that is and not on the quay.

We drag the suitcases a 100 metres to the taxies. The driver doesn't know hotel Palazzo Decumani or where it is, but one of his colleagues gives him some reference points. I wave my city map and say that I know where it is, but the driver takes no notice.

With no errands on the way he finds the right entrance to the maze, and after a short conversation with a soda pop salesman we are at the hotel, and he asks for 10 euro. Actually it isn't far and one could walk, but it is rather hot and the pavements are terribly bumpy for suitcase wheels.

I had fancied a smoke before going in, but pop! the piccolo arrives and disappears with our luggage, and I had better follow him.

The room (305) is bigger than the one (211) we had before going to Ischia, and it is really nice! We unpack, and then I go down to have the smoke I missed. It is one o'clock, and as I step into the sun from the cool lobby it is like being hit by a hammer.

Afternoon walk and refreshments

Figurines and dolls

Neapolitan figurines not made in China

The air doesn't move in the narrow streets, and the heat is oppressive. In Via San Gregorio Armeno are many workshops where they make figurines and stuff for nativity plays - a Neapolitan speciality. One of the shops has a handwritten sign saying: "Prodotti non made in-Cina".

At the end of the street, where it meets Via dei Tribunali, is a church where you can see the subterranean Naples. Maybe tomorrow!

I am siesta-groggy, and on a corner we have an espresso by the counter. With the coffee we get a glass of cold water from Ischia, and at "our" place with parasol shade in Via Tribunali we sit down to fine-tune our laziness and watch people.

A couple with a Danish guidebook sits down at the piece of terrace belonging to the neighbouring bar. Later the gentleman with a white pointed beard goes to the wrong bar to pay, but is guided to the competitor's.

Traffic checkpoint in Naples

A police car with 6 antennas on the roof and two constables inside parks right in front of our table, and a traffic control starts. The policemen wave cars to the side, check their papers meticulously and compare them with long printouts. Do you need a special permit to drive in the old town? Or is it a simple matter of insurance papers?

Traffic control

I don't know, but a middle-aged couple in a dusty green car with pigeon droppings on the hood drives straight into the trap. One of the policemen puts on an air of importance and speaks gravely to the man, while his partner fills out forms.

The man has a resigned and tamed look, but his wife looks like a thundercloud. You can see her thinking that here goes the lovely golden sandals she spotted yesterday. The forms must be signed at least 3 times, and the policemen witness the signatures.

We get up to leave just as the next victims are stopped. This time it is a father, a mother and two kids - all on one scooter. You see that quite often, but today the trap was set in Via dei Tribunali.

You don't always need to hunt down adventure; just sit down and wait and you'll be rewarded one way or the other.

Back at the hotel the maid has removed the bedspread, and the arsenal for a pillow fight has been stored in deep drawers. We washed our hands when we arrived, so the towels have been changed.

A stroll in Spaccanapoli

Laundry

Boys playing with a ball

Garbage in Naples

At half past six I feel restless and go for a walk in the neighbourhood. Helle prefers to stay at the hotel reading.

The sun hasn't set for real, but in these narrow streets it has descended below the roofs' horizon, and people have moved to the street, where they enjoy the relative coolness. Some sit by small tables playing cards; others sit in groups chatting and holding bambinos.

There is laundry on clotheslines and window boxes with flowers. Cars sneak through the crowds, while teenagers drive slalom with their scooters grinning happily with horns hooting.

I turn and walk towards Via dei Tribunali. Some boys are playing with a ball in a piazza. I keep a lookout for restaurants, but see none except small takeaway pizzerias. People get in and out of the many small shops, or the shop assistant/proprietor is standing in the doorway looking for customers and smoking a cigarette.

I walk down Via Duomo, but the only ristorante I see doesn't appeal to me. Back in the maze near the hotel there are turned over garbage containers, and boys are playing soccer in a small piazza with a fountain. On the fountain's edge men are playing cards.

Right in the middle of this vibrant chaos lies Albergo Palazzo Decumani, a bit withdrawn with a shining brass sign. The glass doors open automatically, and I enter another world of cool air, soft carpets and spotless surfaces. The well-dressed woman at the reception interrupts her telephone conversation to say a polite "Buona sera", as I pass. Naples has many facets.

Back at Antica Trattoria da Carmine

We dine at Antica Trattoria da Carmine, which we visited on our first evening in Naples. They have kid on the menu, but not in the kitchen. You probably need to order some days in advance. So instead we have ham and melon followed by grilled lamb with grilled vegetables.

Once again the lamb is very tender and delicious. The portions aren't big and leave room for dessert - a creamy cake-bomb of some kind. Finally limoncello for Helle and grappa for daddy.

The bill says 49 euro. The waiter is kind of blunt, but it is an excellent place. It is closed Mondays. Tuesday and Sunday it is closed in the evening, so that leaves Wednesday to Saturday if you want to go there in the evening.

Back at the hotel bar we have a giant Drambui. The receptionist is on the telephone non-stop, so I write a note saying the drinks are on room 305.