Saturday, May 28, 2011
Napoli. Chaos, pizza and gritty aliveness.
Naples is one of those cities that grabs you up in its grimy fingers and swllows you whole. It is one of those cities without stoplights or crosswalks, and every time you cross the street you must risk your life to do so. You have to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and step out in front of the speeding cars with the hope that they will have the decency to slow down. Amazingly enough they usually do, and your heart skips a few beats as you wind your way to the other side of the river of traffic...and just when you think you've made it safely, a scooter zooms around the corner and you must jump to the sidewalk to avoid being skinned.
The whole ordeal makes this gritty thing we call life seem magnificently precious. Its also amazing how quickly we can get used to putting life on the line every few minutes simply for the sake of pursuing whatever may happen to catch one's eyes on the other side of the street.
Luckily, it does not take long in Naples to leave the hectic main streets behind and get gulped up in tiny twisting alleyways where laundry hangs like prayerflags above you and old women hang like secret agents out of there windows. I spent hours meandering through these allyways, completely lost, on a distracted mission to find what the city is perhaps best known for... the perfect pizza!!
It took me a long time, many twist and turns, and plenty of distractions, but finally i came upon the inconspicuous but divinely renowned Pizzeria di Matteo. I ordered a margerita pizza and watched as they tossed it in their great big stone oven with stealthy expertize, and then carried it like a prize to a seat in the shade of the piazza where i could give this aromatic disc of mouthwatering pomodoro seduction the attention it deserved. As I picked up that first perfect slice, dripping with light tomato broth, luscious mozzerella and an adornment of basilico, and took my first bite, the chaotic bustle of the city suddenly faded into a hazy silence, and i was completely consumed. Completely enamored may be more accurate, to the very last bite.
I thought that living in San Francisco I had been spoiled with the best pizza available, but i must admit that such an opinion has been humbled. This was a universe of its own, a flat planet of delicious perfection, a landscape oozing with utter satisfaction. Yes, i must concur, Naples reigns supreme when it comes to pizza.