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The first time you go to Naples, go blindfolded. And while you’re at it, plug your nose and tape your mouth shut. Do not to attempt contemporaneous use of your senses, they are at serious risk of overstimulation.

The first time you go to Naples, listen. This is a city that sings. Listen: the overly-friendly calls of “Heeeyyyy blondie!”, the mad buzz of motorbikes and incessant car horns, the shouts, the whispers, the scrape of a pizza as it is removed from a brick oven, a drunken song, a baby’s cry. Laughter spills from restaurants into the streets, espresso cups clink in their boiling water baths, crocche’ sizzle in vats of oil. The buildings themselves have voices and eyes; no move goes unobserved or uncommented as you wander a neighborhood street, the most obvious of strangers.

This was my first time in Naples and I had less than 24 hours to spend in the city. I was not blindfolded and I tried to absorb it all: tastes, sights, smells and sounds. The benevolent blue light of a Madonna statue glowing out of a rock wall, the salty sea air, the sweet-and-only-slightly-tart tomato of the world’s most perfect pizza. I am still reeling. My real life now seems colorless, odorless and silent: the people cold; the food bland. But more than anything, the sounds of Naples continue to hum in my head. I wish I had closed my eyes and listened more carefully.

A word to the wise: the first time you go to Naples, don’t look, don’t smell, don’t taste anything. Just listen, she will tell you everything.

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