In Naples the River of Life Flows Hasty
I shall never forget Via Toledo, or indeed any of the other quarters of Naples; in my eyes it is the most beautiful city in the universe, without comparison. Naples, the great city rich in history, alongside Paris is the only possible capital of Europe”. Stendhal in “Rome, Naples and Florence”
"In any other city, art and antiquity would be enough to hold the attention of a traveler. In Naples these impressions are not maintained for long. They quickly give way to the irresistible burst of Neapolitan life. The abstract forms of the statues, the colors of bleached old paintings, the ethereal images of the past, quickly disappear into the loud and shining spectacle of Neapolitan life. All around the walls of museums that keep the remains of extraordinary ancient civilizations, popular life erupts, so strongly to be able to bury you deeper than the lava and ash of Mt Vesuvius. In modern Naples there are no more material traces of Partenope and ancient Neapolis. The river of life flows almost always so hasty that on its primordial banks no historical deposits are left.
For the traveler who knows how to mingle with the crowds, the daily life of Naples has infinite interest. I dare to say that those who have not been to Naples, have not seen the great show of popular life. We are accustomed to speak of life on the streets of European cities as a source of great energy. In fact there is nothing more monotonous and mechanical than the animation of large crowds on the boulevards of Paris .... The Parisian crowd is always driven by some hidden need, and in the strained tension of road traffic there always is something… that conceals an enormous fatigue, perhaps even disgust for life. In order to see a crowd really filled with an unconscious, carefree joy of life, you have to go to the main street of Naples, the famous Via Toledo (now called Via Roma,). From morning to night its narrow sidewalks are filled with people who can be happy with the simple consciousness of its own existence. These people do not hurry anywhere. Still they do not simply kill time with indifference. Neapolitans live only when they feel pleasure. On Via Toledo they find all they like in the world. And no other human being loves the world with such a strong, tough, primordial love.
After a few days of stay, a visitor begins to find the pleasure of the slow walks up and down via Toledo. The continuous movement of the crowd with apparent goal ends up not to amaze him any longer… And all the negative qualities of the Neapolitan people : betrayal, cunning, love of vice, can be forgiven for this deeply sentimental state of love for something as innocent as strolling up and down the main street of city. "
“Images of Italy” by Russian essayist, novelist, art historian, critic and playwright Pavel P. Muratov
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