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Napoli day two

A rainy day in Naples – and so, thrillingly, a THREE TAXI DAY. Thrifty Bruce Kellett does not take taxis, but today we needed two to visit far-flung places, and the last taxi, as the grey skies opened at the end of our long day, was my treat to get us back to the hotel warm and dry. Worth every penny – and Bruce got to discuss politics in Italian with the driver. He is self-deprecating about his Italian, but it’s getting really good. The guy said that Italy should get out of the EU. Good luck with that.

This was also a THREE CARAVAGGIO DAY, that’s how good it was. I missed several of the Caravagii in Rome because the churches were closed. But today, I got to see one in a museum, one in a church and one in a former bank.

We set off by foot for the first Caravaggio and then took our first taxi to the Museo di Capodimonte, a huge Farnese palace and art gallery. An endless parade of treasures, including a wonderful new discovery for me, Masacchio; huge “cartoons” – sketches for frescoes – by Michaelangelo; another, very moving Caravaggio, dramatic, vivid and powerful. The museum is almost entirely religious paintings – more baby Jesuses and Marys than I’ve ever seen in one place. And saints, including my new fave, the guy who always appears with an axe sticking out of his head.

Bruce made a good joke. Titian is Titziano in Italy, and we were looking at his gorgeous portrait of the naked Danae when he said, “Nice Tiziano.”

We had lunch at the museum while it rained – pizza, of course, which is what we’ll have for supper too – and coffee, of course, so delicious here. Another cab, avoiding the downpour, to the other side of the city and the archeological museum – which, it turns out, is closed on Tuesday. Ah. No problem – my guide has another idea. We found the funicular – Bruce with his trusty iPhone, mapping our route through the maze of this bewildering city – and took it to the top where there’s a famous monastery. A great view of the panorama of the city in the rainclouds, and another spectacular church – ye gods, these Italians never decorate by halves, the place was dripping, as usual, in marble and gold leaf and inlay and paintings and frescoes and chandeliers and tons more.

And yet, if I may say so – one of the things I wonder at – these same Italians who decorate everything to death do not understand the concept of a toilet seat. There are almost none; toilets are bare and cold. Why is that, do you think? It’s bizarre. But then lots, lots is bizarre in this Italian world. Taking your life in your hands to cross the street; stores that carry dresses made of turquoise chiffon, right out of 1961; the fact that the people here do not simply talk, they shout, gesticulate, seize each other, jabber incessantly at top voice; that every driver believes that leaning on his horn will miraculously cause traffic to unjam; that a city that produced art and buildings of breathtaking beauty is overflowing with garbage on its narrow, dark, filthy, cobbled streets.


We visited the rest of the monastery – a beautiful cloister, old ships and carriages, a whole section devoted to the “Neopolitan crib” – creche scenes are huge here, intricate and vast with hundreds of characters, animals, houses, tiny details like food and instruments – they’re not only in museums but for sale on the streets, so I guess that’s what families do here at Xmas.

And then the funicular down the mountain. We walked some more and I saw my last Caravaggio of the day. Just at rush hour, the rain began and we hopped in our third taxi. Bruce would have taken the subway which was blocks away. ‘Nuff said. And tonight – PIZZA!



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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