As the ever-delicate slice of pizza wilted desperately between my fingers, I became suspicious. When I had come into the restaurant half an hour ago, there had been a few tables sitting idly, but they had quickly dispersed and now the dining room was empty except for me. Suddenly, the light died and I was left alone in the dark. Had they forgotten I was still sitting here, trying desperately to finish my lunch? I continued to enjoy my pizza nevertheless – its zucchini and fior di latte, the perfectly fired crust – and sure enough, a few minutes later, the waiter reappeared clutching two bottles of beer at his side. We had hardly spoken while he served me but he sat down, pushed an open Peroni towards me and gulped his beer in a few hearty swigs in the semi-darkness. “Ciao, Bellissima!” he cried before sauntering off into the nether regions of the restaurant once again.
My first pizza in Naples was pure proof that I never quite got the time of the mid-afternoon break down while I was in Italy, but the riposo – as it’s known- was the least of my concerns when I had started out for the Southern city. I’d made the mistake of typing “Naples dangerous” into Google the morning I left Rome, and the descriptive account of one’s man arrival at Piazza Garibaldi had made me nearly suffocate with fear, so much so that I put on my best boots, strut and bitch-face to get me through the journey to the hostel. I learned, though, that while there are things to fear in the city – certainly being ogled and perhaps being mugged – the fears of any place are always vastly inflated next to the reality.