This is a slightly different version of an iphone photograph I published on facebook and instagram the day I made it, April 14. I like this one better - it's wider, more panoramic, and framed with the piers that tighten the image. And the addition of the seagulls. Made from the deck of the Florio Rubbatino as we entered Naples harbor in the early morning after an all-night ferry from Palermo. Mt. Vesuvius is on the right.
The idea of cruising into Naples on this ship was important for me. Naples was the point of departure for my maternal grandparents on their journeys to the United States, my grandmother in 1906 and mio nonno in 1913. I wanted to see for myself their last view of their home country, perhaps the image of place that remained in their memories.
I don't know what time of day their ships left, but I suspect the view itself would have been much the same as now, a century later - the cranes and port, the mountains, the gulls; only the jetstream would not have been there and it, but a fortunate reference to a moment in time. The sky and water have been spoken of since Greek times. And, of course, Vesuvius.
I can only wonder what my grandparents were thinking. They were leaving a very poor country, going to what they felt would be a better life. And it was. Gram was only eight or nine years old and secure in the company of her entire family so I'm guessing for her it was all a big adventure. Grandpa was older at sixteen and traveling with his older brother and it must have been a journey to the unknown. They left their family in Sicily and never saw them again.
All of this is in my head as I wake at five and head to the bar for an espresso and its welcome eye-focuser. On deck, it's crisp, bracing I think they call it. The smell and taste of the salt air, they've always been there. Light is coming and I began to see land. The mountains first and then the city, harbor and water. Is this what they saw? Is the excitement I'm feeling on arriving, the same as what they felt on leaving?