Sunday, September 18, 2016

Last Day in Naples


Just as we were about to go meet the gang for dinner, the skies opened up and it started pouring. We hung out on the balcony for a while hoping it would slow down. Eventually, we resigned ourselves to putting on our rain jackets , grabbed an umbrella in the lobby and headed out. We are only about 5 minutes down the coast from the other hotel. As soon as we stepped out, we were greeted with a magnificent view.

The walk was lovely and the rain felt good. The six of us were reunited again and took up our place back at Antonio & Antonio's. Mariano, our usual waiter, was nowhere to be found so we now  had Enzo. I happened to be reading a book about a dog named Enzo, but that is a different story. Mariano did make an appearance with his usual flair. The food was still good and the conversation lively. This time, however, we asked to see the bill before paying. Previously, Mariano would throw out numbers and we would just pay. Last time, I got a bit suspicious so I asked to see the bill last night. AHA! I was right. Ce la' vie - live and learn. Still had a great time.

After dinner, it was back to the best gelato spot in all of Naples and the Amalfi coast. Jim and I declined. I could barely move after eating dinner. Elaine and Jim left this morning and Paula and J will be leaving tonight at around 11pm. There is a chance they may come by our hotel if they have no where to go. Hope everyone arrives home safe.

This morning we woke up to very grey skies. Slept till around 9am and didn't go down for breakfast until after 10. It felt great to just sleep and not have to do anything.Breakfast was wonderful. This hotel has a movie theme to it with lots of huge posters and art deco decor. The hotel is only the first upper floor (there are stairs as well as an elevator if needed). The rest of the building is private apartments. The staff are all very nice and accommodating. We leave very early in morning tomorrow, so they let us pack up all kinds of goodies from the breakfast bar for our trip. Need to get a ride to the airport at 5:30 am. The desk will make a call in the morning with a set fare of 23 euros. Let's hope it stays that way.

The plan for today was to find the synagogue, which happens to be not far from this hotel. It wasn't quite raining yet, but certainly looked promising. Packed up the jackets and we were off. The GPS led us to the area but we couldn't figure out how to get near the place. Geoff spotted an entrance through a building and thought it would go through. It turned out to be the Bourbon Tunnel under Napoli. I think the disco, gallery, parking, and soon to come shopping mall are relatively new.

In the waning years of his life, Ferdinand II of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, grew increasingly paranoid about being overthrown, which, given the history of uprisings in Sicily and in Naples during his reign, was perhaps not completely unfounded. He ordered an escape tunnel be dug through the volcanic rock beneath the streets of Naples so he could escape from the Royal Palace to the military barracks on what is now Via Morelli. The dig connected parts of the 17thcentury Carmignano aqueduct system the city had used since the early 1600s. Ferdinand II died in 1859 and the escape tunnel was abandoned just short of reaching the palace.
During World War II, locals used the subterranean space as a military hospital and a bomb shelter. As the Allies closed in to liberate Naples in 1943, marble pro-fascist statues were ditched in the tunnels to avoid their being discovered. The tunnels became a dumping ground after the war, collecting cars, motorcycles, appliances, and building debris before being sealed up and forgotten for a generation. In 2010, the Associazione Culturale Borbonica Sotterranea completed a five-year project to restore the tunnels and open them to the public.
There is a 75 minute tour that you can take for 10 euros but we didn't want to hang around for it. Unfortunately, there was no exit on the other side, so we turned around and went out the way we came. So glad we stumbled into that -- it was amazing.

Continuing on our mission to find the synagogue, we followed the
GPS up a flight of stairs and we were now in a courtyard. Walked up to two military guards with very big guns (the first we have seen all trip) and asked if they knew where the synagogue was. "This is it" we were told. There was absolutely no indication of any religious structure whatsoever. It was just a building. As it turned out today is European Day of Jewish Culture.
September 18 will be entirely dedicated to events to deepen understanding of the culture, starting with a conversation titled "Eretz Israel from language to landscape," in which the evolution of Hebrew will be illustrated.

Another event, "The language of the kitchen, Jewish food tradition", will follow, as well as a discussion on Bashevis Singer, the only Nobel Prize winner in Yiddish literature.
The lectures were going on - oh how I wish they were in English!!  Paulo showed us around and gave us a bit of history. The orthodox synagogue was established in 1864 with the help of Baron Rothchild. There are only 200 Jews in all of Southern Italy and only 70 in the congregation. Many left for Israel, America, etc after WWII. This is also the only place you will find kosher food. It is a very modest building. They have a beautiful Ketubah (marriage contract) wall. We toured the building and spoke with a few people that spoke English. We were invited back this evening for traditional music and dancing.

After leaving the shul, we took a walk through the park that is down the road from us. The skies were getting darker, so we headed back to the hotel. Made it in before the rain but now it is pouring on and off. A really good day to hang out, get some rest, and gear up for the next adventure. Looks like we won't be going back to the shul tonight -- too much rain plus we are going to try to stream the Patriots game. Maybe we'll order a pizza!!  GO PATS!!


Next time... On to the Emerald Isle

1 comment:

  1. Only 200 jews..sounds like an endangered species. Very interesting about the Shul . Time to watch the Pats, see you on the Emerald side.