Once I found my passport everything seemed perfect. To quote William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” I was in the proverbial “zone” and walked with confidence down Cristoforo Columbo alongside Porto di Napoli. Pizza was on my mind, and I would be destroying a classic Margerita within hours. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele aka The Pizzeria of All Pizzerias? Yes, please. I even knew of an Asian market around the corner from Bella Capri that sold the cheapest bottle of Peroni throughout Southern Italy.
As I walked in my zone, Mount Vesuvius looked a bit bigger, and I seemed to be sweating less (although my physical appearance didn’t convey that). I was far from rocking the classic Neopolitan Gentleman look. In fact, I was more like “The Sweaty Mess From LA” that was about to get owned by sweet Napoli.
I spoke to myself in Italian (and would later cross over to dream) due to pure excitement. There I was, a sweating man with a backpack talking to himself on the streets of Naples. Ma’don.
The plan was to find Bella Capri Hostel where I stayed at three years before. At this time I would like to personally thank Alfredo from Hostel Mancini for his comment on my last post; he was the Manager of Bella Capri back in 2009. I would also like to clarify that Naples is one of my favorite cities in the world, and if you don’t already know, my family immigrated from outside Naples back in 1905 (see WWOOF Italia: Strictly Personal).
The walk to Bella Capri was stressful, but quite amazing given the location. I roamed the same street back in October 2009 after a very long day at the end of a backpacking trip, and now I would be in the region of Campania for three months. That was my original plan: Me + Napoli = No Limit. Ultimately, I would decide to move about Italy every few weeks, which turned out to be a wise decision.
As I walked, it occurred to me that I had seen very little of ol’ Napoli in 2009. The train station and port are full of life, and garbage, but not an accurate depiction of what the city entails. Alhough I had three days in the area years before, two of those days were spent outside the city on day trips. At the end of the day everybody would hang out at the hostel and talk since most were too afraid to venture out in the city. Fair/Not Fair.
I reached Bella Capri, and took a moment to “reflect” aka dry myself off. The opening gate of Bella Capri symbolized a new experience, and I made my way with my usual grace and calmness (?). I dropped a coin in the elevator to get to the 7th floor, and brought my sweaty self to the front desk.
“Do you have a room available?” (I attempted to act composed.)
“No. No, I’m sorry.”
I explained my predicament, and the gentleman could clearly see I was in need of a bed. After a few phone calls, I learned that not only was a bed not available, but that “all of Naples was booked.”
“All of Naples?”
The man was helpful, but I was momentarily frazzled to learn the city had no room. Lost in translation?I explained my plans for Ischia (Eee-skee-ya), and realized my best option was to catch a ferry that afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the phone number of my hosts, and had been corresponding via e-mail. Before leaving, the man (whom I never saw again during several stays), recommended a hotel nearby, but I was working on a poor man’s budget. For a brief moment I imagined my self in a luxurious hotel, and laughing out loud in front of a plate of pasta and a bottle of wine.
If you are read this, Bella Capri, please know that I love your hostel, and would like to thank the other employee who later helped me navigate Naples like a modern day Magellan. The same gentleman also provided excellent advice as far back as 2009, and also during my stays in 2012. Bella Capri is highly recommended.
It was still relatively early, maybe 3 PM, but I needed to find a place to stay. Although Naples is a beautiful place, I wasn’t keen on sleeping behind a garbage while sipping a 1 Euro box of wine.
I wandered aimlessly, and was unable to find the recommended hotel. To the port I went, and decided to arrive in Ischia a day early.
The excitement of not knowing what would happen was incredible, and the short walk to the port helped me get my groove back. Within the hour, I had a 12 Euro ticket directly to Cassamicciola Terme in Ischia. I would later find out the ferries usually arrive at the nearby town of Ischia (on the island of Ischia; see “The Talented Mr. Ripley), however luck was on my side. Now it was getting real, and not only was the actual port of great significance to me and my family history, but I was now about to hop on the ship that I had been thinking about for months.
Mount Vesuvius was in front of me, and I found a spot near my ship with a few minutes to spare. I pulled my international phone out of my pocket and called me my Mother who was a bit surprised. “Oh hey, I’m at the Port of Naples and need some help.”
Over the next hour, my family looked through old emails of mine, and emailed the WWOOF hosts to let them know I was on my way. I wasn’t exactly sure what would happen, but I would be in the resort town if Casamicciola Terme, and not on the streets of Naples. Yes, my first WWOOF “farm” would be in a beautiful resort town. Some of my Italian friends said “You’re going to WWOOF in Ischia?”
After a few phone calls, I looked up at Mount Vesuvius and laughed. Here we go.