A sixth generation Neapolitan and second-generation Classic Journeys guide, Ulisse lives in Naples with his wife, Anna, and their son, Lorenzo. An award-winning tour leader following in the footsteps of his iconic father, Sergio, Ulisse has been guiding travelers around his beloved southern Italy for more than a decade. He also was the first intern in the Classic Journeys office in La Jolla 20 years ago. In the wake of Italy’s Coronavirus outbreak, Ulisse has taken his role to a new level, as our man on the street, keeping us posted on how life in Italy is being impacted by COVID-19. This post follows Ulisse's previous updates 1 and 2.
"Good days, good memories"
In these days of isolation, one has time to ponder what is really fundamental in our lives.
I have been calling a lot of my high school friends over the last two days, knowing I wouldn’t be catching them at a bad time because for the first time ever we are ALL doing the same thing: Staying in.
We finally had the chance to shoot the breeze and fool around with no rush, like we used to do back in our younger days.
One thing we really laughed about is how, before heading home for lunch once school had finished (the Italian school day is from 8am to 1pm), we’d gather for Neapolitan street pizza, ‘wallet’ style…
For non-Neapolitans, ‘wallet pizza’ or ‘pizza a portafoglio’ is a mini-pizza folded into four parts—like a wallet! With your arms extended out and your body as far away as possible, you bite the middle part and let gravity draw the olive oil, tomato sauce and mozzarella down... You carefully bite in and as the steaming hot topping flows out, take a little step back—that sauce is heading straight for your white sneakers!
Our parents would be waiting for us to sit down and eat at 1:30pm but we were constantly driving them nuts by showing up late. They would get mad because food was getting cold and we had already quenched our appetite with takeout pizza. The timeless phrase is: ‘you will hear from your dad when you get home!’
Good days, good memories. The place that makes those pizzas still exists today.
And then it's back to the COVID-19 again. And its economic impact. On TV, the president of the Central European Bank is saying that there will not be a ‘whatever it takes part 2’. Rewind: In 2012, the former president said he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the Euro. Without going into detail (I am not the right person to do that), those words kept the markets from agitating and brought a good stability and trust.
Which is exactly what DID NOT happen after the perfectly-timed words of the current president. The Milan stock exchange plummeted to a -17%, which has never happened before in history.
We flipped the channel and watched ‘Armageddon’.
We needed some Bruce Willis.
We know he can save the world.
At least from the Central European Bank’s publicist.
Time to go now, our dinner is ready.
I look at my son and I pray that he will drive me nuts because he stopped to eat a wallet-pizza after school.
Until next time, Ulisse
Previous updates from Ulisse:
1: "When life gives you lemons, make cheesecake!"
2: "An Italian can do anything on a full stomach!"
More Classic Journeys guide updates from around the world:
Vibeke in Norway
Susana in Portugal