far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from previous entry]

Somewhere during the ascent, he who had greeted/harassed me introduced himself: Maxim. Dutch by birth, I believe, with a french name and many years living in London under his belt (pre- life in southern Italy). The hotel/b&b was his, and he appeared to be the only staff, as least far as management/desk person/customer relations went. We reached the landing, he opened the door, ushered me in. My room, it turned out, was just inside, right off the cosy reception area. Right there, immediately across from his desk, the door to the landing just to the right of my room’s door, ensuring that everyone who came and went would pass right by my home away from home. Felt like renting a bungalow off a highway. I asked if there might be another room in a quieter location, Maxim shook his head in the negative — the hotel was full up, I had no recourse. I resigned myself to my fate, he opened the door to my hideyhole, I shuffled in.

And saw straightaway that despite its unfortunate location, it was a lovely room. Spacious, with a high ceiling and a set of floor-to-ceiling windows at the center of the long wall that fronted on the courtyard. And a long bathroom that was as large as some studio flats you’ll find in New York City. With a kind of wacky shower that I’ve only seen in Italy: just the far end of the room, basically, turned into a shower stall by a big sheet of rigid, transparent plastic that extended halfway across. No pesky door to open or close, no annoying curtain to get tangled up in. Just the end of the room. Wicked.

Unpacked, got keys, received a fast tour of the rest of the place — a long hallway, basically, that took a hard left at two points, ending at the living area — a huge, comfortably furnished space, w/ enormously high ceiling (and ceiling fresco, circa 1800), dining tables, narrow floor to ceiling windows looking out either side (opening to small balconies), comfy sofas, large-screen TV. Airy, nice.

The more I talked with Maxim, the more my first impression of him slowly dissipated, leaving me with a talkative, likeable host who seemed to suffer from the occasional control issue. The lock to my room’s door turned out to be tricky — Maxim’s response: a clear impulse to shoulder me aside and lock/unlock the door himself. He mostly left the hotel door locked, did not hand out keys for it. Result: the bell had to be rung, summoning Maxim to open the door. Meaning he was tethered to the hotel, remaining there during my entire stay — always home, never out. The double-edged sword of control: the gratification of maintaining one’s hold over how things are done and the turning of one’s life into a kind of prison. Reminded me of my mother (bless her wacky heart), made me feel sympathy for him. He looked sadly bored at times, trapped there — up early to take care of breakfast, up late to let in guests returning from the evening out..

So. Settled in, then set off to explore, taking a different route downhill from the one taken on arrival — walking along an avenue with actual sidewalks instead of through cobblestone sidestreet racetracks. Past small stores, cafés, convenience shops, the avenue busy with traffic, the neighborhood looking old and tired (w/ garbage strewn around), like the rest of what I’d seen of the city to that point — but with life & energy, graffiti, posters and handbills everywhere, providing ragged layers of color and visual input.

One thing about Naples: there’s no lack of sensory input. Just the opposite — sensory overload could prove to be a major part of living there.

Wandered past the hulking mass of the National Museum of Archaeology, slowly heading downtown. Puddles everywhere, slowly drying. Skies overhead gray. Cafés scattered around with liberal abandon, providing near-constant temptation. And trash, a startlingly common part of the landscape. (During my stay, that last subject came up during chats with locals I encountered. They made vague references to the Mafia and said nothing more, the topic moving quickly to other themes.)

[this entry in progress]

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Hotel room — Naples, Italy:

España, te amo

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