In the years that I lived in Naples, one of the most beautiful scenes took place on Thursday nights in the summer. Imagine. It’s perhaps 10 o’clock, still warm, with a breeze from the Bay. The Castel Nuovo (the “new castle,” built in 1279 by King Charles I), rises near the water, with a lush green lawn on the west side. It’s lit by floodlights, making the grass a deep Kodachrome green. Thursdays are always the night off for the African women who are, mostly, babysitters, for rich families. They gather on the Castle lawn, wearing vivid robes and headdresses, a garden of queens and princesses. African men come too, in Western dress. There are more men than women and they cluster around the women, pleasant, smiling, respectful, paying court. A wind comes up, lifting the bright robes that stream behind the women. And in the background, the somber, serene turrets of a medieval castle that has stood for nearly 800 years and now graciously hosts this beautiful scene.
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