Traveler: Kezban Arca Batıbeki – Artist
The year was 1990 when we happened to pass Naples for the first time; we had targeted Amalfi, Sorrento, Positano and Capri. When we took to the road by car, which we had rented, we had decided to pass Naples as we considered it an exceedingly harsh and run down city and so we headed to the Amalfi Coast as soon as possible, postponing Pompei to a later date.
Now the year is 2015 and we wanted to give one more chance to Naples. Goodness gracious me! How stupid we were… How did we circumnavigate this city? And we visited twice a month and tried to compensate ourselves for not having visited for all these years. Naples is such a city that promises an endless history and a life with many riches. It is just like Istanbul to a degree. Indeed, it has different areas for each character. I did love its old city, which we entered through a small door between second-hand booksellers, at the most. The longest avenue of Naples, which is also called Spaccanapoli, is surrounded with incredible historical buildings, churches, streets and intellectual people… The coast line having the Vesuvio volcano view at which big hotels are located is a vivacious place full of restaurants and bars where the people of Naples take a breath, promenade, tour around Castel dell’Ovo, have wedding photos taken.
If you will look for luxurious shopping stores, the address is Chiahia area. The most crowded shopping avenue where middle class stores and cafes are available is called Via Toledo, in other words our Beyoglu… Also, the Spanish neighborhood that is similar to the back streets of our Tarlabasi is entered from the side streets of Via Toledo, but to tell the truth, I did not like it much. You can take a few photos and then get out of it.
Cinema has always had a special place in my life. When I and my husband watched the movies “II Postino” by the director Michael Radford produced in 1994 and “Talented Mr. Ripley” by Antony Minghella produced in 1999, the desire to visit the places where the postman, the poet Pablo Neruda, the naughty Dickie Greenleaf and the fraud Tom Ripley went up and down the hills, wandered the beaches, drank coffee at sunrise, were strong.
The main purpose of landing in Naples is to see the island that is mentioned as Mongibello in Mr. Ripley. The island was not on the map this time, but I eventually found the truth. The island that is mentioned as Mongibello in the movie was Procida Island, which is 45 minutes from Naples by Ferry and the beach scenes had been shot in Ischia Island, which is 1.5 hours from Naples and almost most of II Postino in Procida. Eventually, we reached the target. We found the house of Luchino Visconti in Ischia as an extra.
Most memorable escape? Every new place we visit becomes memorable for a while, then we find our way to other places and journeys. Our last “unforgettable” journey was to Naples, Ischia Island and Procida Island.
What was the purpose of your travel? The purpose of our journey was to enjoy the places where the movies “Talented Mr. Ripley” and “II Postino”, had been made, which we watched in 90’s and said that we must visit these places. Cinema has always had a special place in my life. When my husband and I watched the movies “II Postino” by the director Michael Radford produced in 1994 and “Talented Mr. Ripley” by Antony Minghella produced in 1999, the desire to visit the places where the postman, the poet Pablo Neruda, the naughty Dickie Greenleaf and the fraud Tom Ripley went up and down the hills, wandered the beaches, drank coffee at sunrise, had always been strong.
With how many people did you travel? My husband Koray, a friend of ours and I…
Where did you stay? In Grand Hotel Vesuvio and Eurostars Hotel Excelsior in Naples; in Miramare e Castello in Ischia and in Hotel La Casa sul Mare in Procida. All of them are excellent.
What did you most like about the trip? To see a different geography. A different city always makes me very happy. It is good to see if it sometimes does not meet your expectation. Only at the end of the journey, we ask to each other, “Would we visit here again?”. The response of all of us for this journey was “I can visit again and again.”.
Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? Your most surprising find during the trip? It was not a surprise and we went on purpose; but when we discovered Naples, we experienced a happiness from seeking out this destination. We loved the Forio town of Ischia; the mansion named La Colombaia of Luchino Visconti, owned by the famous director of “Leopar”, which he purchased from the local aristocrat Baron Fasssini within a gorgeous forest; our hotel Miramare e Castello facing the beach where “Talented Mr. Ripley” had been shot and the gorgeous Castello Aragonese Island and also the fishing village named Marina Coricella in Procida Island where “Mr. Ripley” and “Il Postino had been shot… And of course the seafood that we ate from this bay…
Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip? Favourite meals of our journey; at lunch and dinner in Ischia… As we spent the hot afternoon hours travelling by car, salad, pizza and spagetti, which we ate in very beautiful ceramic dishes from the hand of our old and sweet waiter in Ristorante Pizzeria Martinaroosa in Forio, being one of the closer towns, it was very delicious. And our hotel Miramare e Castello gave us the greatest surprise with the dinner. I am sure that there are many good restaurants in Naples, but you can find various delicious hors d’oeuvres and sea foods in La Scialuppa inside Castel D’Ovo castle, being one of the most accurate addresses for those who can eat Pizza and Spagetti once in a blue moon like me. For the lovers of pizza; Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo. Even Papa ate Pizza herein. However, it is necessary to enroll and queue, otherwise you cannot get in…
What are the must tries of the city? Naples: I would say Pompei, but it is extremely hot for summer, may be next time… Of course, the Archeological Museum; the longest avenue of Naples; Spacca Naples in the old city and the marvelous buildings, narrow streets on it; Sansevero Chapel in order to see how to sculpture a marble statue and to see the famous “Cristo Velato” statue; ceramic peristyle of the incredible beautiful Santa Chiara church. For those who are looking for luxurious shopping and trendy bars, the alleys of Chiahia area. To sit back and watch, from a bar or café, the brides and grooms running around and having their photos taken, thousands of Italians getting up and going out for a walk under the gorgeous sunset light, Castel D’Ovo and Vesuvius volcano in Via Partenope in the summer evenings was very enjoyable because it reminded me of the summer houses in our youth. To eat at a location facing Castello Aragonese in Ischia, also to drive around in Ischia and to visit Sant’Angelo village, one must eat in Coricella and Marina Chiaiolella in Procida and to drink something… one must go to the RockBar “Dal Cavaliere”.
Would you go back? Surely, we have already scheduled for the next year…
Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? There are few hotels in Procida and the number of rooms is less in the most of them. Be careful while choosing. Be sure that your room is good. If you are one of the adventure types, it would be wonderful if you can find a hotel with the Coricella view. If you are one of the thermal hotel types, there are many available. I recommend that you rent a boat for going swimming (about $150) because the beaches are very crowded. I never recommend you to rent a car because the street alleys are extremely narrow. If you are not a local, it is highly difficult to drive. I had a similar experience in Ischia. I accidentally entered into the narrow streets like labyrinth and I was a nervous wreck until I exited the avenue fortunately without battering the car.
Next stop you would like to visit? Our next journey is to a Greek island, Spetses, which we had been visited previously several times. Occasionally, a guaranteed holiday is necessary as well. Right after, Sicily, which we visited 25 years ago and always planned to visit again. We will stay in Taormina and Siracusa and also look around the closer cities. Both people and cities have changed in time. We loved it before, let’s see what we will think of it this time.