This is the cheapest ticket to Napoli
(a Neapolitan fortune)
In February, I went to Napoli and ate what I considered The Best Pizza Ever. The cheese was sweet, the red sauce was sweeter and the crust was dreamy. Completely different from thin Roman pizza, pizza napoletana is thick and chewy on its circumference and thin in the center. After I finished my pizza and some of mini-e’s, I realized that I was wrong. The Absolute Best Pizza was the marinara at the table next to me–garlicky, full of oregano and no cheese. Ever since, I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to go back to Napoli.

I don’t know if its motherhood or economic crisis residue, but lately, I need raison d’etres, no more je ne sais quoi. Rumor has it that Naples is the southern Mediterranean’s magnet for contemporary artists, with the MADRE, Museo d’Arte Donna Regina as its hub. I immediately thought of my friend A who I’ve seen only a few times this entire year (she lives 2 km from me) and who needs more contemporary art in her life.

Due to aforementioned economic crisis, A would be forced into my cheap and cheerful train regime: the 2 ½ hour, infrequent Regionale at 10.50 euro one way. And also subjected to my stepmom transformation as I had to be back in Rome for mini-e’s recital. Total: 4 hours in Napoli. A agreed and easily purchased a ticket on Trenitalia‘s updated site. The trip was kismet.

Our timing was impeccable. On the way to and fro the MADRE, we popped into a rebel art show on the walls of via Settembrini and the alley off to its side (vicolo Campanile qualcosa). The make-shift and literal side show was protesting the Madre’s Urban Superstars exhibition. Apparently, no Napolitani were chosen for the show so several artists did an in situ exhibition practically on the MADRE walls. It was better.

Note: MADRE’s permanent collection (opened in 2005) literally rocks the house. Koons, Clemente, Schnabel, Boetti, Klein, Manzoni, Hirst, and on and on.

Click on this image to really see the beauty, please*

That taken care of, we went to da Michele for a fantasy come true: a marinara and coke in a glass bottle pour moi and a margherita and beer for A. Stuffed, we crawled to the station and still had 15 minutes to lazily seats. A nearly perfect day. The only brutte figure we experienced were getting yelled at on the train for talking too much by a Neapolitan woman who spoke straight out of Gommorah (seriously?) and A’s careful and subtle removal of garlic from her slice of marinara. Yes, A, you committed a Neapolitan sin. San Gennaro’s blood isn’t going to transform this year.

*This is beautiful. Kind of like Il Quarto Stato (Volpedo), aside from the obvious. . .

** . . . and so is her plaid, stocking-wearing motorino fashion