Tis Returns to Italy! Day 77: A Taste of Neapolitan Passion
Today I got a little taste of Neapolitan passion…
Despite many return trips to Italy, geographically Napoli had never worked its way back into my schedule.
Saving The Best for Last
On a trip to Italy in 2008, I’d spent about 6 hours exploring this chaotic and colorful city, doing as most tourists do, passing through on the way to the Amalfi Coast. The streets were full of people rushing about, Vespas seamlessly scooting through the crowded streets, and laundry drying in the breeze above it all.
It was enough to make me want to return. Intentionally I scheduled it as my final stop on this trip before heading to my departure point of Trieste. In my mind, I was saving the best for last.
Neopolitan Passion for a Football Legend
On my first evening in Naples, Italy was playing Switzerland in a World Cup qualifying game that I wanted to see. After settling into my apartment I headed back to a pizzeria the owner of my apartment recommended for watching the game. The staff welcomed me and gave me a table with a perfect view of the TV.
While I waited for the game to start, I ordered my pizza and checked the team lineups. I noticed a shrine in the opposite corner, dedicated to Maradona, the local football legend. Maradona has god-like status in Naples.
Maradona came to play for the local football team in 1984 leading Napoli to their only two Italian titles along with one European championship. He inspired the city to hope in a time when it was struggling to reunite in the wake of the 1980 earthquake amid high unemployment and terrible conditions. In return, the city has long worshiped him, their passion only intensifying with his death a year ago.
Maradona è Morto!!!
As I was watching the game, a couple arrived with their two toddlers. They were settling into their table underneath the Maradona shrine when their 5-year old son let out a mournful cry of “MARADONA È MORTO!!!!” (Maradona is dead!). It was as emotional as if he were saying “Someone stabbed my Mommy as she was reading me a bedtime story!!!’
My love for this city was only strengthened by hearing that kid scream for Maradona while I cheered on the Italian national team.
This was the perfect example of the passion for which the Neapolitan people are known. This young boy, surely emulating the adults in his life, already has a deep passion for a football player he has never seen play the game.
Ready for More
If this was just a taste of what this chaotic, colorful city held in store for me, I could not wait for the rest.
Bring it on Napoli!