Bella Chaos

16mm by 16mm - Mosaic gold in sterling silver
$165 USD

So I actually did manage to get around a fair bit in the autumn in Europe before I returned to Canada—but have neglected to write about it! My friend Blythe and I decided to meet somewhere in between Santorini and Paris for during her October school break, and we decided that Naples was ideal. I could get there on the very last direct flights of the season, she had a transfer, but we arrived within 10 minutes of each other, and neither of us had spent more than a few hours there. Add in attractiions like Pompeii, Herculaneum, the National Archaelogical museum with its collection of Roman mosaics, and oh, PIZZA and we were convinced a great time would be had.

I admit, despite the attractions, I was still somewhat apprehensive. I have not typically done well in large cities as of recent years, and don't do well with chaos in general, and Naples certainly has a reputation for the latter. Naples in the 90's and early 2000's was also known for crime, dirt, and corruption, and was considered not particularly safe for travellers. Travellers as such tended to use it as a merely a gateway to the coastal towns along the Amalfi coast or that jewel of Italian tourism, the island of Capri. But travel writer Rick Steves—who once himself turned right back around and got on a train upon a first bad impression of Naples—assured me that Naples had changed. And so, while optimistically hoping for the best, I was also mentally prepared for challenges, frustration, and potentially a difficult experience.

What I was unprepared for, however, was to fall madly, hopelessly in love with this chaotic, vibrant, gastronomically unbelievable city.

The Italians use the phrase "bella chaos" (pronounced kah-os) to describe Napoli: beautiful chaos. I would never have expected to be so enamoured by chaos. But this frenetic, bustling, city charmed the heck out of me. The narrow streets in the historic old centre are packed with throngs of people all day. Pizzerias, coffee bars, and 1€ aperol spritz joints all via for your attention, beckoning and cajoling you to stop a moment before embracing the chaos again. Souvenir shops hawk themed socks, ceramics, jewelry, and every variety of item that they can make chili themed. While the food I ate in Naples wasn't always spicy, as such a symbol might suggest, the lifestyle sure is picante, so it's an appropriate homage to the city no matter what! 

I did discover something about chaos, and my tolerance of it while there: the chaos in bella Napoli never seemed threatening. I suspect that's why I've often shied away from hectic cities or simply become hugely overwhelmed by them, that there was something under the surface of the chaos that was unpleasant. In Naples, the mayhem is more a energy, an excitement, a mood. And embracing it, rather than fighting it, made our stay all the more delightful.

The food—oh the food!—is a topic for another day.