The old saying was this: see Naples and die. That quote, however, referred to the nightlife of Naples. Contrastingly, the day life of Naples is even more magnificent.
The sun shone brightly upon this city which iconically has magical tales, some eight thousand years old, to tell. Certainly, Naples is a tapestry, woven together by stories, the Earth and its countless layers of history. When I saw the coast and the harbour two days ago, the brightly painted houses, in true Mediterranean style, looked like a fortified house of cards – stacked in a fragile fashion but incredibly impenetrable. The ribbons of water were various shades of blue: cerulean, aquamarine and sapphire. The sky was clear with only a few minuscule clouds, which were resting there like daytime stars. The people went about their daily business.
The gelato was concentrated with the taste of fresh strawberries – the minimal use of milk had given the gelato more flavour and a certain richness and purity which is commonly associated with tasting food from its place or origin.
We walked down the street for a few minutes and, like proper tourists, asked people for the directions to get to a famous pizza restaurant called Da Michele. This particular pizza restaurant only served two types of pizzas: the margarita and the marinara, as well as two drinks: Coca Cola and beer. One might look at that menu and wonder whether it is even worth it to go there or not, but, this particular restaurant was meant to have the best pizza in Naples and back in the Baroque era, Naples was where the modern-day pizza was born.
Naples had colour and life. The artistic nature of the city was reflected in the warm tones of its buildings which had a sense of homeliness like my hometown of Bangalore, India. The houses, although slightly dirty, were shades of yellow and terracotta. The balconies were made of wood and the paint was chipped – these gave a certain tiredness to Naples – like when a human goes from being in the prime of their beauty to having the visible signs of ageing appear on their face.
The most distinguishing feature of these houses were the washing lines which hung above our heads; as we passed through, we hoped that a big drop of water wouldn’t catch your heads like a mouse trap catching a mouse. The lines went across the street in an abstract zig-zag pattern; it was no wonder that the people of the Mediterranean didn’t need tumble dryers- they definitely possessed more cosmic heat than the people in Scotland did.
Numerous mopeds lined the alley; these were both contemporary and vintage – a pastel green one looked as if it was from a 1950s film like Roman Holiday. The footpath and road were made of cobblestone and were incredibly sturdy to walk on; some stones were slightly loose from years of wear and tear. Altogether, the alleyway was narrow like one from Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town. The only visible plants were the herbs which were resting on the sun-soaked balconies. There was the occasional small eatery every few minutes; lots of these eateries had mini margarita pizzas in their display unit along with other snacks and foods. There weren’t a lot of customers at these eateries so the pizzas’ crusts looked rock hard and the cheese and tomato on top were stone cold.
After walking through a lot of alleys, we finally found Da Michele hidden amongst Neapolitan buildings in a small plaza. From the outside, it didn’t look like a five-star restaurant; the walls had marble on them and the cool white lights gave it a cold and slightly unwelcoming atmosphere. But, one must never judge a book by its cover and a restaurant by its exterior.
We were given a ticket with the number thirty-one by an employee and we were told to wait for thirty minutes to an hour. The million dollar question: was it worth it to come all the way to a small pizza restaurant and wait an hour for pizza? Of course it was! Surely, if everyone was raving about this place and celebrities like Julia Roberts and Diego Maradona had come to eat here, it must be something special.
The thirty minutes went by at the pace at which Saturn orbits the Sun: very, very slowly. Time slowed down like someone had been forced to go at twenty miles per hour when the previous speed limit had actually been thirty – the clutch would definitely burn out and so did my patience. Thankfully, my parents kept me occupied by talking to me about random things. The day was bright and the breezy, acting like a natural air conditioner.
Finally, the person who had given us the ticket shouted ‘number thirty and thirty one!’
I felt a sense of relief as I got back to my normal self and went inside the restaurant. Honestly, was it small. There was just enough space for a person to squeeze through the tables and the restaurant was crammed with black granite tables and chairs. We were taken to a table of four even though there were only three of us. The place smelled like pizza – not the American style pizza but Italian pizza with buffalo mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil.
We were given the menu cards; the two pizzas were 4€ each and the drinks cost 1,80€ each. We got two margarita pizzas, one marinara and three Cokes. The Cokes came in vintage glass bottles; the pizzas came after twenty minutes.
The marinara didn’t have cheese: it just had tomato sauce and sliced garlic and the margarita had tomato sauce, bits of buffalo mozzarella and a basil leaf on top, and, without wasting a moment, we started eating. The pizzas truly, melted in my mouth. The taste was harmonious, and in my mouth, an orchestra played.