Seduced by Naples

I first saw Naples when I was working as a babysitter in Rome. It was winter.

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The beginning of Rachel Donadio’s Seduced by Naples, a great piece of writing from 2013. The Instagram feed that fed this to me talked of the slap of realising it’s only an hour from Rome by train. I’m goggling at a holiday that would cover both.

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Even today, you can tell that Naples was once a Greek city. It is the quality of light, which is clearer and stronger and feels more ancient and essential here – and in all of Magna Grecia, the Southern Italian regions that were once Greek colonies – than the light of Rome, with its softer pinks, or the steady, subtle light of the Italian north, with its countless shades of grey.

paintings by James Wilson Carmichael and Renoir

Naschmarkt Omas

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Just beyond the flat was the Naschmarkt, open 6 days a week and selling wine, fruit, veg, fish, bread, cheese and spices. In the same district, the 4th, were the following eateries (highly recommended):

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– Figar Bao: only the second place to start selling these Chinese buns in Vienna and a small room with two long tables, chilli mayonnaise, watercress and light quinoa in the chicken bao, iced beer and friendly staff.

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– Vollpension: a cafe for all ages, staffed by retirees (Omas and Opas: grannies and grandads) and a place where the generations can hang out together. The roll and glass of milk for breakfast tickled my fancy, but we went for a much more luxurious affair at Demel (chandeliers. orchids. cake.) in the end.

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– possibly the best kebab shop I’ve seen, with the most beautiful tiles behind the counter, a bar that sold bicycles besides the beer, and a wine shop called the Eulennest (owl nest).

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– a couple of Japanese cafes and a hipster burger place with vegan brownies and fries.

(All photos of the market my own, photos of the other venues from their websites.)

Blog of the week & Mexico City

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I’m still completely absorbed by Sybille Bedford’s A Visit to Don Otavio, and these passages (dinner; setting up a hotel) show why. If it fuels your fever, you really must see Ben Pentreath’s blogs here and here. Normally I dial in to Ben’s pastoral idylls on Mon mornings, but these posts from his travels carry some heat.

Karl and Peter

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Their churches in Vienna…(obviously. The holiday snaps are nearly done.)

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Karlskirche is like an icing-sugar white version of St Peter’s outside, with a lake built before it to reflect it

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It’s a church of St Charles Borromeo, who can be seen on the frescoes of the dome, along with other saints and angels, a cabbage and a stream of gold coins.

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The light in this window reminded me of the Rad Cam in Oxford, as did St Peter’s dome, which appears down a side street,

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Inside was lots more carving and gold, along with some bizarre (symbolic?) flouorescdnt pink rocks and tennis balls on a stick.

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Much nicer than the rather dull cathedral though…

Garden peace

After a sunny afternoon walking (and possible getting a bit too hot), and hiding in a cafe with asparagus soup and Sachertorte to recover, a walk in Vienna brings you to this

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and this

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and this (flute and violin duo doing Michael Jackson hits just out of sight)

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and then this.

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Instant peace.

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Volksgarten and Burggarten, Vienna June 2017.

Vienna’s history

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This is the Judenplatz, where Rachel Whiteread’s memorial to Austria’s Jews now stands. In English and German, the text refers to the murders of 1938-45, and in the streets around little cobbled squares provide sun traps for local cafes, platzes for government buildings and a chance for children to play among the art.

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June 2017.

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