Largest Island In The Sea

Largest Island In The Sea

English | 2010 | ISBN: 9657504023, 9789657504024 | 240 Pages | PDF | 1.17 MB

"¡­What did I "know" about Naples? That it was an important city historically, formerly the capital of a kingdom; that it had been in serious decline for centuries, that it was full of pickpockets, purse-snatchers, and counterfeit watches, pocketbooks, and pens. I knew that it lay in the shadow of Vesuvius, that Pompeii and Herculaneum were nearby, that many Italian-Americans (among whom I grew up in New York) came from southern Italy, and that it was supposed to be a splendid city, despite the corruption, squalor, and decay. I once heard a company of marvelous young musicians from Naples play and sing medieval and renaissance music, so I knew there was high level musical activity there¡­" Naples is an overactive city of nobility and squalor, sprawling in the menacing shadow of Vesuvius. Not far from Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, the streets of Naples are lined with Africans and Asians selling sunglasses and watches, and young men from North Africa, seeking work, lounging in the streets. It is here, an island battered by successive waves of war and conquest - from the rivalry between the Phoenicians and the Greeks in the sixth century BCE - through the battles of World War II - that Europe merges with the Third World. Jeffrey Green had wanted to visit these places since his childhood in Greenwich Village, New York City, which, as much as it was a haven of poets, painters, bohemians, and intellectuals, was also the northern fringe of Little Italy. The faces he saw, the voices he heard, the stores he passed on MacDougal Street on his way to school, were all Sicilian and Neapolitan. Hardly a month went by when he and his parents didn't eat at least once in a family-owned Italian restaurant. The fragrance of Italian food was the fragrance of his New York Jewish childhood. At the age of 60, he finally got to Sicily, in the company of Judith his wife, and another couple. By the time he got there, it meant much more to him than an echo of his Manhattan childhood, for he had been living in Israel since 1973, and was now a citizen of Mediterranean civilization himself. So his exploration of Naples and Sicily, although frustratingly brief, was also an exploration of an assumed identity. Travel can give us both knowledge of the world and lead to a deeper self-knowledge. Just as on a trip, no matter how carefully one plans, there are always surprises, some propitious, some untoward; in this book the reader will not necessarily find what he or she expects.


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