“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
― The Four Loves
I’m finally getting around to sharing some of our travel escapades from earlier this year–all of which have been a lot less planned and organized that we probably intended. Jeff’s done a friend’s birthday in Denmark, I’ve had a last-minute jaunt to Italy, and my brother’s wedding was organized on about three month’s notice, so it’s not been a year of grand escapes so much as trying to fit in what we can. But we’ve had some good times nonetheless…even if we want to take a solid two weeks off for Christmas!
So, why did I flit off to Naples earlier this year with less than a month to plan you ask? Simple:
X and I had an anniversary to celebrate: our 20 year Friendiversary. We met 20 years ago, at a weeklong summer camp arranged by our then-church. I had just moved to Virginia from Texas and she from Scotland. We were both military brats, Air Force to be specific, and we had what L.M. Montgomery once immortalized as a “kindred spirits.”
X is older than me by a couple of years and has always held the role of best friend and older sister. She has been a constant in my life for two decades and though our lives have not mirrored, they have flowed alongside one another without stopping. We went to the same university, both experienced a great faith change, have changed careers multiple times, struggled in the hustle and grind of the world’s biggest cities, laughed, and cried.
She’s one of the great loves of my life, and I fully intend that she and I will be frolicking along until a ripe old age.
Our agenda was not complicated. Hours of talking, eating our bodyweight in pizza and wine, all the local coffee and baked goods we could reasonably consume, beauty and perfume boutiques, and nerdery. We exceeded every single goal
Fulfilling a lifelong ambition, she indulged me in a day in Pompeii.
I was incredibly relaxed and not at all bugging out about the whole thing.
Pompeii is easily accessible by public rail from the city center and incredibly visitor friendly. There are comprehensive maps which can point you to the more famous tourist spots, or you can simply wander to your heart’s content. We did a bit of both
I truly didn’t understand the scale of Pompeii until I got to wander through it. I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of cultural heritage sites and ruins in my life, but this is another scale when it comes to completeness. Roman grafiti have been preserved and restored on the walls. Shop stalls are set up as they were on the day of the catastrophe. Homes and gardens are laid out in ways that are perfectly understandable and accessible to a modern viewer.
Two girlfriends, both alike in dignity…
I cannot over recommend the Airbnb route. X and I decided to do this trip on something of a whim and within one frantic Google Docs and call session had arranged for dirt cheap flights and a place to stay fairly locally. Like many cities, Naples has a thriving non-hotel market (which is admittedly causing other challenges for local industries) and there are excellent options at a variety of pricepoints. We saved money by going for a cheaper one bedroom joint that allowed for late night chats reminiscent of our teenage sleepovers, and a killer view of Mount Vesuvius. Get a local pad, stock up on coffee, bread, cheese, and fruit, and spend your money travelling or shopping.
The whole city is gorgeous, a mix of ancient and modern, gritty and grand.
We were lucky enough to stumble across a church which also functions as a museum which happened to be housing a Chagall exhibition–X’s favorite artist. Of course we took it in, and we fell head over heels in love with their resident (official) mouser:
And ducklings…the pizza! Naples is widely considered the birthplace of pizza as we know it and there are a million local joints with their local fans and factions, all willing to do battle over which reigns supreme. PERFECT if you’re a visitor whose only goal is try EVERYTHING. My favorite was a fairly modest looking, hole-in-the-wall family restaurant which just happened to hold a well-deserved Michelin star.
Our last night in town we stopped by an antique bookseller which converted into a bar by night. It was the perfect place for a farewell hang.
I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the airport contained not just one but two fully fledged cheesemongers. My kind of city!