While we’ve been allowed to leave the apartment from time to time and we’ve been trying to enjoy our new found freedom, I’ve also been thinking about much better times than these.
This is how I got stuck on a memory concerning Naples. Now, we’ve always preferred our own coffee compared to the coffee one can buy at bars in Veneto, so we’ve never had any issues with staying away from bars and having our coffee at home. However, what I do miss, is the strong, dark and bitter flavour of the real deal; coffee in Naples. And not only the flavour. In fact, I think I might miss the entire ritual it involves even more.
I remember one moment very vividly. It was on a sunny autumn day that Davide and I had found our way towards the south and decided to spend one of our days in Naples. It was surprisingly warm that afternoon and after having walked all day through crowded streets (how different it all was back then), we made one of our last stops in a popular bar in Naples, where they supposedly sell some of the best coffee.
This may surprise you, but we didn’t order a coffee that particular moment of the day. We had already had several coffees and were more in the mood for something refreshing, but what you might have guessed, or not, is that somebody else was ordering a coffee at that particular moment in that particular bar. A tourist.
Now, I’ll be honest with you, I sometimes feel sorry for tourists in Naples (realising fully well that in some way I’m a tourist too). It’s an amazing city, one of the best, but when it comes to their food and their coffee, Neapolitans are, to put it softly, tyrants. This particular tourist was about to offend the barista in ways he had apparently not often been offended before. The tourist ordered a coffee and, obviously, was handed one. He took a sip, frowned and called over the barista. The following utterance was either extremely brave or suicidal, but he requested some warm water. Now, this request in itself is not at all strange or impolite, however, he did not request a glass of water, he wanted his water added to his coffee. Very reluctantly and with clearly shown disgust the barista did what he was asked. Customer is king. It was also not the barista who felt he needed to say anything about the ridiculous demand. There was no need, because right next to the tourist two Neapolitans had been sitting, who, after having followed the exchange of coffee and idiocy with great interest, felt the entire interaction as the greatest offense that had ever taken place in their city. They discussed, out loud and with unconcealed irritation the travesty of what had taken place. If Davide had not calmed them down, I’m quite convinced they would have taken the tourist by any of his body parts and thrown him out of the bar.
Ah, Neapolitans. Theatre and drama run through their veins and you hardly ever get a coffee (or a drink in our case) without a vivid performance. Isn’t it charming. And maybe, just maybe, in a month or so, some of this vividness will return again.
From Italy with love,