Falling Palace: A Romance of Naples
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A portrait of the sun-drenched volcanic city from an American who has lost his heart to the place and to a beguiling Neapolitan woman.
In Falling Palace Dan Hofstadter brilliantly reveals Naples, from the dilapidated architectural beauty to the irrepressible theater of everyday life. We witness the centuries-old festivals that regularly crowd the city’s jumbled streets, and eavesdrop on conversations that continue deep into the night. We browse the countless curio shops where treasures mingle with kitsch, and meet the locals he befriends. In and out of these encounters slips Benedetta, the object of the author’s affections, at once inviting and unfathomable. Weaving the tale of an elusive love together with a vivid portrayal of a legendary metropolis, this is a startling evocation of a magical place.
and how he'd trotted around the stadium after soccer matches waving a handkerchief at the fans—were offered reverentially. Sandro felt that Naples had gone downhill after Lauro's fall because the people needed “a strong hand” (though not necessarily a monarchist one like Lauro's). The reign of Lauro had been a golden age for Sandro; apparently he had not held a steady job since, and as for the convertible, we hadn't an inkling how hed come by it. We had no intention of asking. When I think of
couldn't have known (having been assigned the second book of the Aeneid, rather than the sixth, in my high school Latin class) was that the Campanian corridor to Tartarus was situated not in Naples proper but by the Lake of Avernus, about a half hour to the west, closer to Cumae. The day came when I saw that lake (already a tame suburban pond), but by then what did it matter? Over the years, my daydream, nourished by tangible facts, grew steadily more vivid. Many Neapolitan hassi, cantinas,
mean, and what “truths” had required interment? I didn't know—I wasn't brave enough to ask—but when I did inquire whether it wouldn't make her anxious, all this raking up of the past, she told me it produced the opposite effect. “It gives me peace of mind,” she said, “like eating a chocolate truffle.” Once, too, she had written love poetry in her diary, but no longer. “Anyway, not to you,” she said, with a teasing look. In high school, a boy had found such poems and mistaken himself as their
slurred. “It's miraculous what religion can do,” he went on, “because till then I'd had no interests at all. School bored me terribly. I hated sports. And then, voilà! I had a calling. And it came rather early, too, as such things go—nowadays no one has a calling anymore, even the Communists are in it for the dough. Don't think, by the way, that my business is restricted to what you see before you.” “Many of the things in the window,” Benedetta said, “are up front merely to catch the eye of
old service revolver his father had given him and seven hundred condoms. “Gigi, why seven hundred condoms?” “Listen,” he said, dragging on his cigarette, “Abinotto wasn't so young anymore, okay? His wife had died a few years earlier, and just before that he'd bought a job lot of condoms on the black market. He'd calculated the number of times he was likely to have sex with her before one of them died, and it was seven hundred. Of course he'd been wrong, poor guy, so now he was stuck with the