I’ve just come back from spending a week in Naples, somewhere that’s been on the bucket list for quite a while, and it was fantastic. I realised that I actually can speak reasonable Italian to make myself understood and also to mock my long-suffering and kind husband with hotel staff. We realised that we enjoy walking about everywhere and are genuinely rubbish at sitting still for more than about 2 minutes (maybe that’s me and Andy just goes with it!). We saw Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Sorrento and Amalfi and realised how incredibly lucky we are for that.
However, some of the most interesting aspects of the trip for me were where I started to draw up a few links between dots relating to Italy and Latin America. I will caveat this post by saying that this is purely my own thoughts, which are utterly unresearched and based on my own gut feelings, rather than anything more. I will gladly be corrected, quizzed or critiqued if I have got something wrong at all!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and other parts of Latin America over the years. I also worked for a couple of summers in Italy (Tuscany and Venice), during my summers at University and I did notice that there were lots of similarities in culture between Argentina and Italy. However, on visiting Naples, I was struck immediately by the resemblance that Buenos Aires bears to Naples in terms of buildings and the overall feeling of the city, albeit that Naples is a significantly smaller place. The sound of Neapolitan Italian is dramatic and emphatic, singing along as people express themselves; it was music to my ears and I loved the sounds it made! To me, the sound made me think of Rio-Platense Spanish, which is the Spanish I learnt many years ago and would sell my soul to hear every day. There was a kind of frantic-calmness about the city; things were done in their own time, but enthusiastically and with real gusto. A week in Italy for me helped me to better understand some of the aspects of Argentine culture I didn’t quite follow and made me thirsty to learn more about southern Italy, and to get myself actually able to speak ‘proper’ Italian, rather than trying to make it up as I go along!
Whether I’m right or not with my thoughts on Naples and Argentina, I don’t know, but I am sure that I found a greater love for both places after a week in Naples and feel very lucky to have experienced the two places!