NAPLES – by Dalmatia Fleming
NAPLES – by Dalmatia Fleming
Nancy had been fascinated by Pompeii since she first became aware of it, around the age of ten.
She arrived solo at the Naples train station, because her friends weren’t interested in seeing Pompeii. Didn’t want to see Pompeii, are you kidding me?! As long as they were enjoying themselves back in Rome, that’s all that mattered, Nancy mused. She tried to not think less of her friends for their lack of culture and poor judgment. Nancy would return to meet up with them in a few days.
WOW! This place was not like northern Italy! Hardly anyone spoke English, as was the case in the large cities to the north, so perhaps Nancy would actually have to rely on her “Italian language skills”.
Nancy had taken “Italian for Travelers”, a ten week night course at the Community College. It was easy to drag oneself to class after work largely due to the hot Austrian instructor, Luca.
The class was difficult. There were forty students to begin with and by the last day only four were left of which Nancy was one. Verb conjugation and the articles, my God, the articles! Who knew there could be so many versions of “the” and “a” by the time one considered masculine, feminine, singular, plural plus irregularities!
After managing to not get mugged by the riff raff at the station while spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone trying to secure a room, Nancy walked the two blocks to her hotel, the ninth one and near the bottom of her list. WOW … this place just might be worse than the train station! Time to check in and get the heck outta there. With Arte Card in hand, Nancy hopped the bus to the Archeological museum, housing all the artifacts of Pompeii, a much more interesting and safe place. She wouldn’t have a lot of viewing time, the museum would close soon.
The next day Nancy hopped a train to Pompeii. Nothing more to say; it was all she had imagined it to be, and more!
Semi-tame feral dogs cavorted through the site much to Nancy’s delight. She suggested to the trinket vendors that they should create a “Cani di Pompeii” calendar to rival the “Gati di Roma” calendars found all over Rome. Based on her enterprising idea, they guessed she must be from New York City. New York City?! Who says people from Seattle can’t come up with big dollar ideas! They all had a good laugh.
After checking out of “The Riff Raff” hotel, Nancy made one last trip to the Archeological museum
“I’m sorry, with the Arte Card, you can’t enter the same museum twice. It’s good for three museum visits, but it has to be three different museums, no repeats.”
Nancy was momentarily stunned and relieved by her perfect English. “You’re kidding! I just went to Pompeii today. Yesterday I came here just for the last hour before you closed. I wanted to look at some things again”.
The clerk paused and studied her face, leaned close and said in a whisper “Go on in, I won’t swipe your card”.
“Oh, thank you! I really appreciate it!
Nancy hopped another bus to a pensione referred to her by a very helpful clerk at a four star hotel near the train station. Nancy had stopped there on her way to Pompeii to ask for advice on where to next stay. The thought of working her way down another long list with similar results was unbearable.
Nancy made her best guess as to where to depart the bus. Once off, she opened the map and studied it in earnest. I woman approached her, unable to speak English but clearly wanting to help. After an unsuccessful attempt at communication, the woman flagged down a man on a motorcycle. He stopped.
It was a large black bike with huge compartments on either side of the back wheel. The man was decked out in a snazzy black leather jacket. Everything about the man and the bike were immaculate. After Nancy listened in awe to the beautiful exchange of Italian between the two locals, the man turned to Nancy and stated in perfect English “English or French”.
“Where are you going”?
“I’m trying to find this pensione”.
Nancy handed him a piece of paper with the address and the man inspected it. “Hmmm… where did you get this”?
“The clerk at a four star hotel near the train station gave it to me. She says she knows the proprietors. They’re just starting in the business”.
The man pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called the number. “Boun Giorno. Blah, blah, blah, una Americana, blah, blah blah… Grazie.” He furrowed his brow, paused in thought and hung up. “I know of another place you might like, how about if I call them for you”.
“Oh … OK”.
Again he called. “They have a room for you”.
“Oh… that’s too much. This is the last four days of my four week trip. I don’t want to spend that much.”
“OK. I know of another place to call”. Again he called and asked about a room and price.
“Well… I’d rather not spend that much”. Pointing to the piece of paper she had handed him, Nancy asks “So you don’t think I should stay there?”
… “Not really… I don’t think it’s a safe part of town, especially for tourists. I really don’t think you should stay there. I’m a little surprised the clerk suggested this place to you.”
“Well, she said she knows them…OK, how about this place. This is one I was considering before I had talked to the clerk”. Nancy handed him a list of “official pensions” she had picked up from the concierge at the train station and pointed to one.”
Again he called… “Fifty Euros”.
“OK, I’ll take it. Where is it?”
The man paused… “Hop on the bike”.
He opened one of the back compartments and pulled out a helmet. Nancy put it on, climbed on the back of the bike and hung on. About five blocks later, he stopped. “There it is”.
“Great!” Nancy climbed off the bike. “I just can’t thank you enough for taking the time to help me. You really saved me. Here, take this”. Nancy dug in her pocket and pulled out two Euros. “Have a cappuccino on me”.
He smiled. “No.”
“Really now … please … take it, you really saved me.”
He laughed. “No, I can’t take that”.
…”OK… you have two choices, either you take it or I will take your photo”.
“OK … wait … my camera”. Nancy took his photo; they said their goodbyes and parted ways.