Location: Naples, Italy
As soon as you set foot in Naples, you’re enveloped in a world of perfect chaos. Caught in a flurry of scattered pedestrians, speedy vespas, and crumbling alleyways, you’re a mere dot splattered on a canvas.
There’s the banter and shouting of animated locals and the impatient, aggressive honking of congested traffic squeezed into the tiny, twisted streets. There’s the aroma of fried local goodies, of freshly baked bread and pizza a portafoglio. There’s wonderfully brewed espresso. There’s babà with custard! There’s sfogliatella. Amidst the confusion, there are historical gems like Castel dell’Ovo and beautiful old churches around every corner.
Location: Lago Patria, Giugliano in Campania, Naples
I tell your mother that your family’s house is beautiful, but she doesn’t seem to believe me. It’s too small, she says, we don’t have much space.
Your apartment building is of modest size and sits on a dusty street of sporadic loud noise and chaos, lingering evidence of its neighboring big sibling Naples, located just a few kilometers south of here. A large grey building sits right across the street, abandoned and graffitied, and I wonder if it’s as dangerous inside as it is unsightly on the outside, and what types of people lurk around here after hours. When we go out at night, we drive past stretches of cornfields lined with prostitutes, some huddled together in packs, others standing further apart from each other, all waiting to pay the bills.
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Location: Serramezzana, Salerno, Italy
Our friend comes from a hilltop town in the province of Salerno, population: 90. It is quite literally located on top of a hill, which you can only access by speeding up a winding road with just enough curves to make you nauseous.
Last summer, we stayed for a few days at his family’s house, where he grew up. His father and grandfather built their gigantic, rustic two-story house with their bare hands. Although he doesn’t consider where he grew up a traditional farm, they own a decent amount of land where they grow corn, potatoes, sunflowers, tomatoes, green beans, onions, figs, eggplants, and other fruits and vegetables.
I like to think it was fate that led me to marry a man from Campania, which happens to be the birthplace of Mozzarella di Bufala, one of my absolute favorite Italian foods of all time. As I write this post, I sit here staring longingly at pictures of this exquisite cheese, daydreaming about its incredibly smooth, gleaming white exterior, and its soft, milky, rich interior.