A thousand “me”

There are a thousand reasons to visit Naples: majestic Vesuvius, incomparable Neapolitan Pizza, breathtaking Capri and Ischia, unmissable archaeological sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, the National Archaeological Museum), beautiful weather, beautiful people.

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Naples was the backdrop for Admiral Nelson’s love affair with Emma Hamilton: a commercial, political and cultural hub that was a key destination of Victorian Grand Tours. A city littered with treasures that will fill the discerning tourist with unforgettable memories: jewels such as the Veiled Christ, Subterranean Naples, the Christmas market at San Gregorio Armeno; a short trip and you are at the Palace of Caserta, a boat ride and here’s Sorrento and Amalfi. Confused? My friend Mario can help organise your Grand Tour.

I go to Naples for a special reason: an almost yearly pilgrimage to my old school, “Nunziatella“. It owes its name to the beautiful church “della Santissima Annunziata”, a masterpiece of Neapolitan Baroque and forever the School’s chapel.

Every year, thousands flock here to celebrate the School’s birthday and participate in a public ceremony that has impeccable pupils and rowdy alumni parade together in the city’s main square: Piazza del Plebiscito.


It is one of those occasions where you experience the difference between a thousand friends on Facebook and a thousand friends in the flesh.


The defining feature of this kind of reunions is that, over the years, they play in your mind like time-lapse photography. Same places, same occasion, same dress, same faces… You blink and you are in the fullness of youth; you blink again and you’re ambling with a stick.

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And what of feelings? To describe the confused states of happiness, pride, fear and sadness I need to enlist the help of one of Italy’s greatest poets, Giacomo Leopardi:


e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.


Sensing the infinite, Leopardi ended thus his most famous poem, l’Infinito, describing “how sweet it feels to be shipwrecked in such a sea“.

Morale of the story: during our lives’ grand tours we spend a good deal of effort trying to be different in pursuit of individual achievement. However, we often forget that true fulfilment is found in the self-effacing embrace of community: the power of “me” times a thousand.

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