Driving in Napoli is a dangerous, tedious and caustic experience. To and from Sorrento: countless CO-chocked tunnels, hundreds of slow-moving Buses (Local & Tourist) with catchy names and expressive well designed color schemes, narrow roads, off-camber turns, broken concrete, well-dressed-but-useless traffic cops, ancient cobbles, buzzing motorcycles, farting scooters and stop-n-go traffic for 7k & forty minutes at a time. Napoli: The same, but flatter and hotter and more intense + Traffic Light Dudes forcing (opt out style) packets of napkins and stuffed animals onto your dash/under your wipers unless expressly forbidden, and even then, often enough. That said, 7k of on the E45 between Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius is down-right pleasant.
At 1:30pm we park in the Piazza del Plebiscito, we walk to Gran Caffe Gambrinus (a temple of the intellectual elite according to their website, and the oldest coffee shop in Europe according to someone at Castelli) to use their bathroom, moments later sign-in begins. The figure-eight-like circuit runs for 6k or so along the waterfront, it’s walkable and heavily spectated.
- The wind and rush and exhilaration of 207 cyclists riding past you over and over again. Sometimes no more than 5 inches from your face. Sometimes further. Sometimes closer.
- It was 80 degrees and sunny.
- Gelato Stands, Café bars, balloon vendors, tall/narrow cans of coke available everywhere.
- Neapolitans love sun-bathing, in Speedos, on rocks.
- Five or six pre-adolescent boys skyward fist-pumping at a race helicopter before shouting after it, “Suck-a my dick-a,” in unison, with vigor and gusto!
- The old guys, the bikinis, the naked kids, the summer Sunday Mediterranean Harbor Tableau of it all.
- The dude on a Cannondale in the front the whole day squirting water from a water bottle onto his head with three laps to go, certain to get caught but fighting it. The crowd fighting it too.