Ceci n'est pas un concert - drama!


Anonymous (eighteenth century), Veduta del Vesuvio dalla lanterna del Moro con il ponte della Maddalena ed i sobborghi di Napoli fino ai Cappuccini di Torre del Greco. Collection: Unknown.


“Vesuvius was on our left all the time, emitting copious clouds of smoke and my heart rejoiced at seeing this remarkable phenomenon with my own eyes at last. The sky grew steadily clearer and, finally, the sun beat down on our cramped and jogging quarters. By the time we reached the outskirts of Naples the sky was completely cloudless, and now we are really in another country. The houses with their flat roofs indicate another climate [...] Everybody is out in the streets and sitting in the sun as long as it is willing to shine. The Neapolitan firmly believes that he lives in Paradise […] We spent today in ecstasies over the most astonishing sights. One may write or paint as much as one likes, but this place, the shore, the gulf, Vesuvius, the citadels, the villas, everything, defies description. […] Now I can forgive anyone for going off his head about Naples, and think with great affection of my father, who received such lasting impressions from the very same objects as I saw today. They say that someone who has once seen a ghost will never be happy again; vice versa, one might say of my father that he could never be really unhappy because his thoughts could always return to Naples. […] I won't say another word about the beauties of the city and its situation, which have been described and praised so often. As they say here, 'Vedi Napoli e poi muori! – See Naples and die!' One can't blame the Neapolitan for never wanting to leave his city, nor its poets for singing the praises of its situation in lofty hyperboles: it would still be wonderful even if a few more Vesuviuses were to rise in the neighbourhood. I don't want even to think about Rome. By comparison with Naples's free and open situation, the capital of the world [Rome] on the Tiber flats is like an old wretchedly placed monastery. […] We have spent the second Sunday in Lent wandering from one church to another. What is treated in Rome with the utmost solemnity is treated here with a lighthearted gaiety. The Neapolitan school of painting, too, can only be properly understood in Naples. […] I can't begin to tell you of the glory of a night by full moon when we strolled through the streets and squares to the endless promenade of the Chiaia, and then walked up and down the seashore. I was quite overwhelmed by a feeling of infinite space. To be able to dream like this is certainly worth the trouble it took to get here. […] Every time I wish to write words, visual images come up, images of the fruitful countryside, the open sea, the islands veiled in a haze, the smoking mountain, etc., and I lack the mental organ which could describe them.” [Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1786–1788), trans. Wystan Hugh Auden and Elizabeth Mayer (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1982). pp. 184-190.]





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© 2020 by Inês d'Avena & Claudio Ribeiro.