Pozzuoli: Lady of the Night (and day)
Before moving to Italy I had many questions, but some I just didn’t know to ask; like is there an active volcano under the house I’m renting and is my neighbor a prostitute? No. I was naive and did not think to ask these questions, and more.
The trouble with a volcano is they’re unpredictable. The day we toured the beautiful house with lemon trees and a view overlooking the Bay of Naples, the wind was still, as was the ground. Our first night my nose sensed something was off. I went room to room sniffing the air trying to catch the culprit whose scent balanced between sweaty gym sneakers and rotten eggs. Problem was, the smell was in every room on every floor. And stepping outside, it got worse.
I grew up in a small town in Louisiana named after a mineral, Sulphur. I’m embarrassed I didn’t pick up on the origins of my Italian home’s scent. In my youth the stench of Sulfur was static, like the humidity that rebelled against all forms of 80’s hairspray. So now I find myself dealing with Solfatara; a habitual chain smoker of Sulfuric gas and steam. She’s a superstar volcanic crater among geologists and volcanologists. Like her scent, her danger lies in what eyes can’t see but destroyed drain pipes in her underground web prove. She’s corrosive. Solfatara doesn’t have the notoriety or grandeur height of her neighbor, Mt. Vesuvius, but she’s more likely to cause trouble…although she tries to be subtle, residing in a land that sounds serene, the Phlegraean Fields. Just beautiful, until you learn Phlegraean means Fiery. This little heap of mineral ash is dragon catnip, they would swoon and feel at home in her “Fiery Fields.”
It’s ironic I left my hometown of Sulphur and now reside an ocean away in a place that smells like the childhood home I left, and my neighbor is indeed an escort. My only problem with this is she’s able to find employment (in high demand, actually) and I’m not. And my house stinks. I’m doing my best to come to terms and make peace with both. It’s going to take time.