Wednesday, October 04, 2006

19 December 1955

One of the many Italian songs familiar to most every American, & one almost sure to be brought up at a party songfest, is heard frequently in Naples—at least the title: "Feniqulee-Feniqula" (spelling more phonetic than accurate; pronounced Fein-eee-cue-lee, Fen-eee-cue-la). The Feniqulee, I learned to my surprise, is a little subway-trolley-tram that runs up & down the major mountain in Naples. It consists of several railway cars especially built so that they’re always going uphill—if placed on level ground, they would lean forward at a 45 degree angle. I call it a subway because it runs up the inside of the hill, a trolley because that’s vaguely what the cars look like—wooden benches running across them (each car is sort of terraced to prevent everybody from sliding down to one end); & a tram because it may not be English, but it certainly isn’t American The closest thing we might have to them would be on some of the very steep hills in San Francisco, but I wouldn’t swear to it, never having been there.

I suppose the best place to start would be on about chapter three, with my leaving the good old Ti safely moored to a sea wall about a two minute boat ride from the pier. I went ashore with the sole intention of taking pictures, as it was a beautiful day. Vesuvius slouched in the background, away from the city & the ships, & I was rather disappointed not to see smoke pouring from her crater. She’s a ragged mountain, now, shaped roughly like a camel’s humps—the right hand one is the active cone. At one time she was almost twice as high, but blew herself away in the eruption that buried Pompeii, which lies on the other side from Naples.

The bay inside the sea wall is rather small—smaller than Genoa. Andrews had said that when he first came to Naples, at the close of the last war, that the harbor was impassable—clogged with capsized & sunken ships. The Italian Navy scuttled itself there, if I’m not mistaken. Now there are no sunken ships & nothing in the waters to remind you that a war had been there & gone. A large ocean liner, the Conte Biancamano, was just pulling out, escorted by little tugs, like a large old lady & several small boy scouts. The pier was lined with relatives & friends waving handkerchiefs at the ship’s stern.


philadino said...

Found this entry while looking for information on the ship manifest for the Conte Biancamano from December of 55. I was an eight year old on that ship heading for America

philadino said...

I forgot to mention that the song Funiculi, Funicula refers to the Funiculare (the subway/trolley) which is called by that name because it is pulled up the hill by a big cable which originally was a rope (funicolo) like a cable car in San Francisco

Dorien/Roger said...

Thanks for stopping by "A World Ago," Philadino, and for your comments. Amazing how fast time goes by. All I have to do is close my eyes and I'm there again. (Returning to Naples next year, after 55 years. Should be interesting.)