If I had to choose the place where I want to watch my last sunset, I would pick Gaiola Island. Wonder why? Because this place makes me feel deeply melancholic and nostalgic. There is also something mysterious and dramatic about it.
It was my last day in Naples. The city that you cannot be indifferent to. You either love it or hate it. And since I’m a weirdo who seeks for beauty in everything that is not that obvious and apparent, and who enjoys nuisance, boisterousness, and boldness, I fell in love with the place at first sight.
I don’t know if it were circumstances or my hidden fascination that made me postpone the moment to see Gaiola Island. The place I wanted to visit since the first time I saw it in a music video. So, in my last day’s schedule, I didn’t want to include anything else but Gaiola and the culinary frying pizza experience, which is a vital part of Naples.
Gaiola is actually a part of the Gaiola Underwater Park, which protects the Gulf of Naples’ unique wildlife and its ancient Roman ruins, including the temple of Venus. They say that the poet Virgil taught his students on the islands or in the remains of the Roman harbor, which are both now sunken below the water.
What made Gaiola more interesting to me was the curse, which weighs upon the place. Or so said the legend.
Darmon Richter in his article about world’s most cursed islands describes that in the 1920s the villa on Gaiola Island was owned by the Swiss businessman Hans Braun. He was later found murdered on the island, his body wrapped up in a rug. Not long after, his wife drowned in the sea. The next owner was German Otto Grunback who was taken by a heart attack while living on the island. Maurice-Yves Sandoz, another owner, would later commit suicide in a Swiss mental hospital. The next, a German industrialist by the name of Baron Karl Paul Langheim, was plunged into economic ruin and disaster. Years later, the head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli, would buy the island villa. Not long after, his only son committed suicide, leaving him with no heir. When he began grooming his nephew Umberto Agnelli to take over the company, Umberto contracted a rare form of cancer and died at the age of 33. The multi-billionaire Paul Getty was the next to buy the island, just a little while before his grandson was kidnapped. The last investor to attempt to tame Gaiola was Gianpasquale Grappone… who ended up being incarcerated when his insurance company collapsed.Nowadays, the villa on Gaiola Island remains uninhabited as it slowly falls into ruin.
Ok, enough murders. Time to eat.
Neapolitan pizza is the one from which everything has started, and the art of its making is included on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. I’m sorry to disappoint you: I’m aware that now your whole world can collapse, but what you eat in your „Italian restaurant” outside Naples is more likely not a real pizza.
And beyond pizza napoletana, we have pizza fritta (fried pizza) that is a traditional „fast-food” of Campania, Puglia, and Sicily.
You must try this one while in Naples. And what I can suggest – go to the most hidden, creepy place you might find in one of those narrow streets of the capital of Campania. And if you meet my fried pizza master, say „tutt’ a post’ compa?”