It is my last day in Italy, and Naples has been a revelation. It is not a particularly pretty city. In fact, it's pretty seedy and decidedly dangerous. Being an ancient port that sits at the base of an unpredictable volcano ( Vesuvius) and has Pompeii to flaunt in its backyard, Naples has been conquered so many times that locals claim there is a bit of every known human race in them. But it is the areas around the bay ( often described as the most beautiful bay in the world) that draw tourists from across the world, especially in summer. Right now, It's cold and damp. There are hundreds of Chinese and Japanese visitors flocking to Capri and beyond, but are the locals complaining? Hell, no! Given the shaky state of the economy, every euro is welcome. It's actually a pretty good time to be in Italy. One can bargain without shame and get the best deals in town. Locals insist they really don't care about Berlusconi's wild sex life so long as he agrees to reduce taxes! Most oldie goldies admire his guts and get a gleam in their rheumy eyes while discussuing the man. They insist it's all thanks to the tomatoes, olive oil and fish. That is their secret for a healthy, robust life, free of disease. They love their cherry tomatoes, gigantic lemons and fresh sea bass which they cook in lemon leaves ( yummy!). They also claim the local mozzarella is the best in Italy... and I believe them.
Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi.... God really took his time creating these spectacularly beautiful areas, where life is enviably languid and four hour siestas, mandatory. I have to confess I'm a bit sad to leave. I keep hearing Dean Martin crooning love songs from the '50's... and his voice makes me cry a little. There is a full moon hanging precariously ouside the balcony of my charming hotel which was built in 1870. The mood is mellow... and Mumbai, for once, is not as powerful a magnet, pulling me back to reality... and home.