Last Friday, I decided to embrace my inner-tourist and embark on an excursion to Naples with an organized group. Whereas other outings with this company include a packed itinerary, this trip provided transportation only and we were given several hours to explore the city at our own pace. While I have become fairly accustomed to public transportation here in Rome, the charter bus was a welcome change. The average commute from the Cipro station by the residence to the Flaminio station by Piazza del Popolo and Temple Rome’s campus often includes metro cars more heavily packed than the Broad Street line on a Phillies game day. Personal space becomes less relevant as people pile on in order to travel to school and work in a timely fashion. The crowds of people often seem somewhat disproportionate to the amount of handrails that prevent falling onto a neighboring commuter at each abrupt stop. Being able to sit comfortably in a seat and enjoy the view without peering through several shoulders and heads was such a luxury, though public transportation is certainly part of the Roman experience.
When we arrived in Naples (several Temple students were in attendance), we strayed from the piazza to find steep cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants. We walked deep into the shopping district, downhill from the piazza, and then retraced our footsteps going uphill in order to try the famous pizza of Naples. In Rome, the pizza is thin and square and served folded with the crust on the outside so it can be eaten as a sandwich. In Naples, however, we each ordered our own round pizza that hung over the edges of our plates. The dough is softer and thicker, though both varieties are delicious. In order to have a well-balanced meal, we had gelato for dessert. I was surprised to find oreo gelato and even more thrilled at the rich, creamy texture—certainly among the best I have had during my stay here in Italy.
The scenery behind us as we ate our gelato was tremendously impressive. Looking out over the horizon, we could see Mount Vesuvius in the distance. Walking closer to the water, we were met with a gorgeous view of athletic fields and boats; everyone scattered across the landscape seemed to be enjoying themselves. From the water, we walked back up to the point at which we entered the town in order to see the castle, Castel Nuovo. After all of the walking, we stopped to rest on the lawn. It was truly remarkable to be relaxing so casually in such a grandiose setting. I have often found this to be the case in Rome. Traveling to school, grabbing lunch, or chatting with a classmate here may not be tremendously different than these events would be in Philadelphia, but the setting never ceases to amaze me. Surrounded by history, we are reminded that we are part of history and there is a constant sense of the multitudes contained in this world.