Naples and İstanbul. The first is a city that, even though having lived in Italy for many years, I have traversed many times but I that I have always neglected to know really well. The second is the city where I was born, then left, then returned to after many years of living abroad.
In both these cities living can be hard for their inhabitants, but at the same time they are both irresistible. Each time you want to escape from them, they call you back; the farther away you are, the stronger your connection becomes. Living there is a burning pain, being away is a constant longing to return back. They are both magical. You don’t live there to be in peace, but for your addiction to their chaotic energy.
There are cities that are straightforward and predictable, where everything works perfectly as planned, in a logical scheme. Tomorrows are predictable; the most unexpected thing you can do is to spill a cup of coffee on yourself. Some cities, on the other hand, are a bomb of emotions, waiting to burst out. Every single step, every single move you do is filled with feelings and excitement. The only certainty is the existence of chaos. There are moments that can smash your spirit, bring you to the breaking point, but also blissful moments that make you fall in love. Whatever happens, you can't remain indifferent to them.
For these reasons these two cities are very similar. Life flows through them like an inexhaustible torrent of sensations, as in their disconnected and unstable roads. And it touches all your senses: people, cars, incessant honking, the voices of street vendors that fill their streets and their alleys . As you walk, you feel the specific scent of the city, which is often a mixture of exhaust fumes, cigarettes and flowers of the season. And while a sudden breeze touches your skin, you can taste in your mouth the salty air of the sea.
Naples is like İstanbul; a bitter and rebellious child, a whimsical and sexy woman. Maybe that's why their energy is always high. Even though İstanbul is not close to a volcano like Naples, it is as if it is fed from a hidden volcano and ready to burst at any moment.
Having been the capital of various kingdoms and civilizations, both cities possess some the world's highest cultural, historical and artistic heritage. Ethnic groups who have formed their human mosaic throughout the history add a different color, taste and texture to both cities.
Contemporary life, however, flows at a different pace over the traces of their history.
On a hot summer's day, while walking fast through the narrow streets of Naples, a beautiful door invites you to the large courtyard inside. When you enter, you find yourself in a completely different century and totally in peace. The hustle and bustle of the outside world is left outside the door.
Likewise, if you get out of İstanbul's traffic and sip your tea in a tea garden in front of the sea, you will feel that all your tiredness fade in the time of a glance. There is even a song written for this exact sentiment: “I came to take a sweet piece of peace from Kalamis”...
The sea is the most important unifying element in the life of these two cities. Those who live near the sea know it, the feeling is incomparable to anything else. You wake up with the scent of iodine, listen to the voices of the passing ferries, take a walk on the shore; everything is special. The winds that blow from the sea, are the most important topic of conversation in both cities. ”Does the wind today in İstanbul blow like “Lodos" from the southwest or like “Poyraz" from the northeast? “ or “Cover yourself well, if there is Poyraz, it can be very nasty” – you hear people say – and if there is Lodos, you might get a headache! There is a saying: "İstanbul's winds and girls are unreliable". Because they are variable, and put you in the opposite corner. "Scirocco" of Naples, which brings the heat is the Lodos of İstanbul, and the "Maestrale" is the Poyraz.
And of course, the common feature of the two cities, is certainly their hospitality. Not as a social necessity or for showing off, but because it is sincere and heartfelt.
So many things can be told, yet, I wanted to focus on the feelings these cities evoke on you.
İstanbul and Naples. Difficult but irresistible... Chaotic but beautiful.. Tiring but not dull ... Capricious but sweet...Rebellious but comforting.. Unpredictable but traditional...Exciting and definitively not dull!
You have to let yourself go to the sweet feeling of serendipity and enjoy what these cities offer you. Surely, you will not be bored .
Ayşe Pınar Akalın
Ayşe Pınar Akalın