Posted by Pdianek on November 23, 2003
In Reply to: See Rome and die !!!! posted by Barney on November 23, 2003
: : : : A recent radio programme referred to the phrase "See Naples and die" and gave Goethe as the source. But what is the origin of See Rome and die?
: : : Somebody misquoting Goethe?
: : : There's no such quote as "See Rome and die," unless somebody just blew it. I don't know what Geothe said exactly, but the Italians say "Vedi Napoli e muore." What it means, of course, is that when you've seen Naples you've seen everything, and it's safe to die. Or something pretty close to that.
: I lived in Naples for a time and saw little that persuaded me not to look for a better place. I did, however, catch flu in Naples and nearly died - leastwise that's how I felt at the time. I also found it a place of loud car horns, petty thieves, overcrowded streets, and loads of rain in December. I preferred Florence.
The Naples area is one that Italians for many centuries have regarded as the most libertine and outrageous of places. After all, Vesuvius rises above it, Pompeii was buried practically next door. If you read the accounts of crime, behavior and spending in ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum, you'll realize that the simple terms "orgies" and "nothing succeeds like excess" are euphemistic descriptions when applied to the actions of some of the residents. Even house decoration tended toward the lascivious, corrupt and drunken. So when you see Naples (the general area), you've seen it all.