The past year has seen many people across the world grapple with a very specific type of loss; the sadness of a trip not taken, the mourning of exploring new cultures, the yearning for experiences beyond the anomie of the supermarket. As that strong desire for, and impulse to, wander the world fell prey to the pandemic in a turbulent 2020, we seemed at one point to be surging toward an anticipatory dystopia. Who were we without travel? What do we have to look forward to when there is no international holiday booked for summer?
Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve been commissioning artists, painters and illustrators from different cities all over the world to paint a picture of what they see out their windows – either real or imaginary. Most artists have been confined to these cities during the global lockdowns, and all have a close connection to the place they have illustrated. Each artist has a “GRAZIA At Home City Guide” perched on their window sill, insider guides to the cities you need to visit and recollections of moments past in these nooks of the world; how they drank in the palaces, how they wandered through the parks and how they ate and ate and ate. There’s recommendations too – local dishes, phrases and lessons – so you can start imagining your own itinerary from the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re headed to Napoli.
Every city has its cliches. They aren’t necessarily bad but simply oft-promised experiences of culture. A sojourn to Naples – usually a stopover while en route to elsewhere – involves pizza and pickpockets, one might think. Illustrator Vincendo Del Vecchio reconfigures our imaginations with his intricate window portrait; A bustling, complicated Napoli, one rich in character.
“I am not from Naples but from the age of 10, I’ve been adopted by this city. It’s my house. Its rhythm – crazy and messy – is my rhythm,” Del Vecchio says.
Describing Naples as “seductive” and “sacred”, the architect-come-artist recalls the “complex and polluted city’s “alleys, chaos and noise” as his first memory. His illustration is intricate and complicated and inspired by a mythological mermaid named Partenope.
“The ambivalence of the mermaid – woman yet animal – evokes the sacred and profane side of a mythological figure that, like Naples, seduces and deceives,” Del Vecchio explains. “My style is strongly influenced by my background as an architect; the skill of transferring 3D reality onto a bi-dimensional piece of paper. It’s a method that creates perspectival illusions.”
“Naples is restless and constantly changing; an incessant tide, where the only way to live and love the city is by letting you go and being brought in by the waves.”
In Naples, the past is everywhere.
“I remember my first day at University. A young barman brought a coffee to a priest in Pio Monte della Misericordia Church in the centre of Naples,” recalls Del Vecchio. “Above their heads hung The Seven Acts Of Mercy painting by Caravaggio. It was an everyday moment lived with calmness, without giving any weight to such an important work – a piece of art I could have admired only in books.”
If you find yourself with 24 hours to see Naples, Del Veccio suggests starting your day with a nice coffee and a walk through the city’s historical centre, along it’s tights alleys. “Listen for the coices of its inhabitants,” he says.
For lunch, even the artist suggests pizza. (Neapolitan tradition says pizzas should have more sauce than cheese.). And to Aperitivo hour is best experienced with a view – try Castel Sant’elmo, amdieval fortress located on Vomero Hill which overlooks the city.
Follow Vincendo Del Veccio @videlart_illustration
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