Dubai diaries: Time to Mambo Napoletano. Let's fly
As the summer months yet again descend on the UAE a familiar hankering arises: travel. And unlike last year, this hot season it may be more feasible to jet off to a variety of destinations. For me, however, a combination of influences combined with some fortuitous airline route openings dictate there’s only one country pulling at my heartstrings after over a year of staying put. Witnessing the Azzurri breeze past Turkey in Friday’s opening Euro 2020 match under a crisp Roma evening sky, opera singer Andrea Bocelli having roused the team with a superlative rendition of Nessun Dorma during the opening ceremony, Italy or Il Bel Paese’s charms are too seductive to ignore. Writer Samuel Johnson perhaps put it best: “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” Thankfully, with two century’s passing since the ‘Father of English’ put forward his musings, the requirement to be male to go sightseeing is no longer applicable.
From the almost Sound Of Music-esque Alpine northern Lombardy to the serene Puglia ‘heel’ facing Eastern Europe, down to zesty Sicilia, a stone’s throw from Africa (not to mention everything in between), Italia has always been a confluence of cultures sure to confound a first-timer’s often stereotypical expectations. Of course no journey to any of the stunning locales is going to be complete without trying the pasta, though many scenes depicted in popular media are often slightly wider of the mark than reality. Fashion models sat drinking espressi around an ornate fountain before hopping on Vespe (yes, those are the correct plurals) to lounge on the beach are sadly few and far between these days. That is until we come to the ferociously fabulous city of Napoli, or Naples, where clichés aren’t merely embraced, but seemingly encouraged.
FlyDubai restarting its regular direct service to this teeming cauldron of passion and flavour from July 1 and the establishment of a no quarantine corridor between Italy and the UAE have only served to deepen the desire to return. The birthplace of pizza (which in itself should be reason for a reverential visit) and sat in the shadow of a still very active Mount Vesuvius, we don’t know if it’s the food or the threat of eruption that gives Napoli its typecast tempestuous flare, but the power is palpable from the minute you deplane. You want to witness unorthodox scooter traffic, gesticular banter on every corner and shopping streets unchanged in over a century? This is the place for you. Constant blue skies, a coastal breeze and a side of authentic Southern Italian bravado are just the cherries on top. Forget Roman Holiday, I’m going on a Napoletano vacation. Who’s in?