Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day trip . . .

. . . to Vomero

My efforts to learn italiano are being hindered by the lack of opportunity to practice. Classwork and homework just are not enough. So, when our instructor organized a field trip to the Certosa e Museo di San Martino in Vomero, I decided to tag along.

No, this is not the entrance to the museum. Because Vomero's streets have the layout of a plate of spaghetti, and the width of a Smartcar, I decided to take the Metro from the NATO compound. I parked my car securely inside the gate, behind the two Italian guards sitting on their version of a Bradley mounted with a fairly large machine gun. This is the first part of the path from NATO to the Metro station. Inviting, innit?

When I arrived at Montesanto station, at the bottom of Vomero hill, I was greeted by proof positive of Naples' current garbage crisis.

How competent are you at parallel parking? It's an art in Napoli, and people take no prisoners. If there is a spot with 2" of clearance on each end, someone will park a car there. They primarily park by sound, and bumpers are well used - if present at all.

This is the cloister inside the church. It isn't an abbey in the common sense of the word. A Carthusian Charterhouse is essentially a community of hermits. Each house is headed by a prior and is populated by choir monks and lay brothers. This cloister is also a cemetery. Those globes on the fence are carved stone skulls, but the graves are not marked.

The sanctuary of the church is an amazing example of tireless, patient craftsmanship. The floor, columns, steps, and partitions are all marble, and are shaped as a master woodworker would execute joinery. The amount of time required to do this magnificent work is simply beyond comprehension.

Then, there's the view from the plaza outside the museum, with Vesuvio overlooking all. Bellissimo!

Napoli is sometimes called "A pretty girl with dirty feet." Today, I saw the dirty feet, but the pretty girl was still enchanting.