Nicely Naples

Naples

Naples

Our last day in Naples wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Piazza Plebiscito and Castel Nuovo.  After escaping to the Royal country home at Caserta it was time to see about city living.  Piazza Plebiscito is the largest public square in Naples. Once upon a time cars were allowed to park in the square but no longer.  The Royal Palace sits on the east end of the square and opposite is the Church of San Francesco di Paola.

The Royal Palace, Naples

The Royal Palace, Naples

Church of San Francesco di Paola, Naples

Church of San Francesco di Paola, Naples

Piazza Plebiscito, Naples

Piazza Plebiscito, Naples

We didn’t go into the Royal Palace.  Partly because we were tired and didn’t want to mar the memories of the morning in Caserta.  Seeing these last few monuments were just places to check off.  It sounds terrible but does anyone have 100% enthusiasm for every major building, monument or ruin in a historic city?  I did take pictures of all the former Kings of Naples which were too amusing. More

Livin’ large at Reggia di Caserta, Royal Palace of Caserta

Reggia di Caserta, as seen from the gardens

Reggia di Caserta, as seen from the gardens.  Yes that thing all the way back near the horizon

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Reggia di Caserta, is a marvelous place.  It was begun in 1752 by Charles VII of Naples with his architect Luigi Vanvitelli.  The Bourbon King wanted a new royal court that was protected from sea attacks.  Modeled mostly after Versailles, but also the Royal Palace in Madrid and the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, Caserta reflects a mixture of Late Baroque and early Neoclassism on a large scale. Not all the rooms are open to the public but the ones that are clearly convey the palace’s splendor.

The park and English garden behind the palace are tremendous in size.  When we finished touring the palace we headed towards the park.  Looking at how far the fountains were from the palace we decided to rent bikes to make a quicker tour.  Whoever came up with the idea of renting bicycles to tourists is brilliant.  If I was wearing a period dress I could have been in a deleted scene from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.   

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MDNA Skin, You might get some garters some day

“Your body smells of honey from the comb.  Your amber silken skin smells of your mind.”

“Infinity.  Immortal.”

“If you  buy her product you might get some garters some day.”  This was my bf’s review after watching Madonna’s promo for her skin care line.  I asked if he learned anything about the products, “Absolutely not.”  He was impressed with the sexy, black and white ad and I was not.  I thought it was a joke, a parody of skin care.

I get it.  Madonna needs to stay relevant.  She’s bored and she needs to dabble in something.  Sitting at home, reading a book is not in her wheelhouse.  Partnering up with an existing skin care line is so done.  She’s Madonna.  She can create her own high-end skin care line.  Will it be amazing and keep us as young and fresh looking as her?  It’s hard to know since none of that was communicated in the promo.  According to her website MDNA SKIN will “challenge women and their awareness about the art and beauty of skin care.”  Oh.  It’s not supposed to make us laugh?

It has launched exclusively in Tokyo with a dedicated Japanese website.  Under the “Concept” tab is another black and white video flashing images and words of inspiration.  Her high fashion connections/collaborators are on display as the video is credited to Steven Klein and Mert and Marcus.  There’s no news of the chrome clay mask, skin rejuvinator(her spelling)  and serum hitting the States so we either have to bribe someone visiting Tokyo to pick some up or just wait for the reviews.

I wish Madonna had given us videos of herself applying the products and describing their benefits.  A sexy demo session not so choppily edited would have been okay.  Give us you in your fake boudoir, performing as only you can, telling us what we cannot live without.  Maybe she will.  Until then I’ll wait “hours, months, years” before trying it.

Farewell Panarea

Panarea

Panarea

The fun has to end sometime.  Here are the last few glimpses of Panarea before we took the ferry back to Naples.  There are no reserved seats on the ferry.  Your ticket gets you onboard but it’s your job to stow your luggage and find a decent seat.  We waited at the harbor for the ferry.  Everything was calm until the ferry arrived.  The frenzy began when the gangplank came down.  People swarmed towards the ferry like the harbor was on fire.  One man shoved his wife and kids ahead of him onto the gangplank and then passed three pieces of luggage over other people to his family.  At first I thought, “just go with the flow, there’s no rush.”  Unfortunately we realized if we didn’t join the scrum we’d be the last ones onboard.

Panarea

Panarea

A 50 something year old Italian couple sat in front of us.  There were only two of them and a few bags spread over four seats.  A young woman asked if all the seats were taken.  The older woman said that she had a knee problem and needed to extend her legs across the seats so sorry, no seats available.  A few more people tried but they were also denied a seat.  The ridiculousness continued when we pulled into Naples.  The man stood up gathering his things.  All of a sudden the woman threw her newspaper at him and started yelling in Italian.  Apparently their small dog peed all over her bag and he hadn’t bothered to notice or care.  He wanted to have a nice lunch but she didn’t want to do anything so boring and ordinary.  Her whole day had been ruined.  It’s amazing how quickly your vacation bubble can disappear and that peaceful, relaxing time seems miles away.  Fortunately Panarea had made a vivid impression that I wouldn’t forget.

Panarea

Panarea

Panarea

Panarea

Panarea

Panarea

Where do you live?

Panarea

Panarea

Does your house or apartment have a name?  Beach houses in Myrtle Beach, SC have names.  Certain residential buildings in the five boroughs of New York City have names.  Why doesn’t every building have a name?  Do people just not care?  Or is it pretentious?  Whatever it is it’s memorable and you can have fun with it.  Who doesn’t want to live in Villa Lasagna?

Panarea

Panarea

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Aeolian Islands rock!

Aeolian Islands

Aeolian Islands

Although there are other Aeolian Islands to explore we limited ourselves to the nearby faraglioni or stacks.  The closest ones to Panarea are Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Bianca and Lisca Nera.  Every day we went out to one of them.  Each is distinct in its shape and accumulation of rock.

Rock

Rock

I felt most comfortable swimming close to the stacks.  A few times we were farther out and the water was a darker blue.  On one side we had our little boat and if you turned around all you could see was the horizon and the sea.  It freaked me out. Suddenly I had a feeling of being alone in the open ocean and I felt tiny.  Fortunately I just had to turn around and swim back to the boat for my sense of security to return.

Rock

Rock

Sometimes we could see fish and tiny jellyfish or medusa.  If there were a lot of medusa in the water we waited until they passed.  Once I thought they were gone and jumped into the water.  I must be a medusa magnet because even though bf was in the water, I was the only one who felt 4 or 5 tiny sharp pricks around my shoulders and the back of my legs.  When I got out of the water I had red, itchy welts.  I was glad the medusa weren’t bigger.

Rock

Rock

I loved the contrast between the blue colors of the water and sky.  After swimming for a bit I’d towel off and lay down in the boat studying the water, rocks and sky.  Simple pleasures.

Rock

Rock

Rock

Rock

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Walter De Maria lived on my street

Walter de Maria's abode, 421 East 6th Street

Walter de Maria’s abode, 421 East 6th Street.  Courtesy Katharine Marks for The New York Times.  

I’ve lived in the East Village for nearly ten years.  Recently I found out that the creative type living in the strange building on my street was Walter De Maria.  Once or twice I saw a man going into the building but that was it.  No hullabaloo or nonsense over there.

Mr. De Maria died last summer and his home plus the vacant lot to the left is for sale.  Do you have $25 million and need a housekeeper/cook?  Adopt me!  Do not judge this book by its cover because it’s amazing inside.

There’s a slideshow here, and the original article from The New York Times.

 

 

Panarea is paradise

St. Peter's Church, Panarea

St. Peter’s Church, Panarea

Panarea is the second smallest of the volcanic Aeolian islands that hover north of Sicily.  The other islands are: Stromboli, Vulcano, Salina, Lipari, Filicudi and Alicudi.  To get to Panarea we took a five hour ferry ride from Naples.  One third of the island is occupied with 300 or so residents.  The rest is a nature preserve.  Your feet, golf carts, bikes or scooters are the only modes of transportation.  We had no cell phone, internet or TV in our small rented house.  Of course there are hotels, like the famous Hotel Raya, and other homes for rent.  Groceries, wine and liquor are available  from the markets near the harbor.  Dining out is not a problem as there are plenty of restaurants.  Our concerns were few.  A typical day consisted of putting on a swimsuit, applying sunscreen, packing lunch and taking off in a boat for the day.  We’d return around 6 or 7 for a shower, aperitif and then stroll to dinner. Aaahhh island life. More

A religious afternoon in Naples

Cloister of Santa Chiara

Cloister of Santa Chiara

The morning had been devoted to the worship of beautiful things and after lunch we visited the Church and Cloister of Santa Chiara and marveled at Cristo Velato, The Veiled Christ in the the Chapel of Sansevero.  My favorite part of Santa Chiara was the majolica cloister and courtyard.  I probably wouldn’t make it in this convent long.  I would be too wrapped up in the vivid colors, scenes and designs instead of focusing on my appointed mission.  I’m more a Fraulein Maria than the Mother Abbess.   More