A couple of weeks ago, there was a jazz festival here, held in a few different tourist sites around Pozzuoli. Concerts were held every night, most in the Solfatara (which is that stinky place I wrote about back in September 2010). Since I vowed never to return to the Solfatara, those concerts were out for me. But one was allegedly held in the Baia Terme Archaeological Park, my favorite ruins in our immediate neighborhood. This is the place that is an old Roman spa complex and villa, and so lacking in visitors that most visits, I've had the complete complex to myself. There is an old swimming pool, a fabulous, domed spa, tunnels heading down into the ground, and a wonderful view of Baia and the Bay of Pozzuoli beyond. Naturally, I was very excited to attend a jazz concert there. I'd made arrangements to go with new friends, who know the festival organizers. They said the concerts always start late, so we didn't rush and eventually arrived to the venue about 30 minutes after the start time...and the venue was completely dark with a chained gate locking it up tight. Okay, this is Italy - maybe they're starting really late. We headed down the street to a popular bar for drinks and snacks. An hour went by and other friends showed up. As it turned out, the venue was printed wrong on the flyer. Possibly the concert was now over, but with good drinks and good company, the evening carried on anyway.
Saturday night was the final concert of the festival - my last chance. Nathan was out of town, but a co-worker couple of his had expressed an interest in going - this concert was at the Temple of Neptune, a ruin that is usually closed to visit, but does have a soccer field attached to it where the local kids play. I'd never even heard of this ruin, so I was quite excited to see something new. Once again, we arrived a little late in hopes we'd get there as the concert was starting. It seems that when my friend told me the concerts don't ever start on time, he was not exaggerating. The 8:00 concert started about 9:25. But what was even funnier is that the venue didn't even fill up until about 9:15 or so. I was wondering if this was a chicken and egg riddle - Did the concert start late, so no one showed up on time...or did no one show up on time, so the concert started late? Which came first? But, as my friend said, "It's Italy." And remember...now I sort of smile at that instead of doing internet searches for cheap flights back to the U.S. Regardless of the start time, the evening was absolutely lovely. A cool breeze had blown away the humidity, our "early" arrival landed us seats in the back where there were cushioned chairs around tables, the better to rest our glasses of a local wine, and when the concert eventually started, we were able to chat quietly with a background of live jazz filling our ears. The night ended perfectly with a visit to a neighborhood pizzeria, where I ordered some of the best pasta I've eaten in Naples. Unfortunately for my friends, they and the rest of the neighborhood had ordered pizza, which took about an hour to come out - highly unusual, here, but the pizzeria was hopping. At midnight, families were still pouring in - families, as in Mama, Papa, Nonna (grandmother), and at least two young children. At midnight. It really is different here.