Naples Redux

Naples’ artistic and cultural patrimony dates back two millennia, but there IS a vibrant, young Naples of music and spectacle awaiting the adventurous visitor. A place of modern entertainment, where various types of contemporary music can be enjoyed, is Galleria 19 (read: Galleria Diciannove), which is located on via San Sebastiano, in Naples’ historical center, very close to Via dei Tribunali.

As glossy and hip as any equivalent establishment in the Haight or in SoHo, Galleria 19 offers disco, contemporary pop, jazz, instrumental and vocal, often with local musicians and singers performing live. The locale, reached by going down a few steps from street level, is a remodeled old book repository, long and narrow, with the stage at the far end and a hypermodern bar along the left side. Comfortable chairs and love seats are strewn along the right side, leaving a center space for dancing. Want to rearrange the furniture to suit your group’s seating preferences? By all means forget stuffy american rules and redecorate: this is free-form Naples, where rules are kept to a minimum.

The ambience is a suggestive, atmospheric blend of severe ancient walls wearing the latest fashion in art and lighting. Most of the clientele, young people in their twenties and early thirties, are there in their evening best. Nowhere else in all of Naples will you see such expanses of long, stockinged female legs, ending in feet encased in pumps sporting 8-centimeter stiletto heels. As for the quintessential little black dress, this is the place to show it off, and they are little indeed. The young men do their best to keep up, in their form-fitting short coats and pants from Fusco. Definitely a feast for the eyes.

Galleria 19 was launched nine years ago by a group of young friends, among whom is Richard, an Italian-American who lived in Washington DC before settling down in Pozzuoli (a suburb of Naples) and launching the discotheque. If you get there ask for him; he’s friendly and personable, and represents an oasis of English in a sea of Italian, to mix metaphors. Which brings us to HOW you get in: before 10:00 pm don’t even bother, they will think you are an American bumpkin. If you have a car consider carefully before trying to use it to get there: this area is a ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato), and good luck trying to park anyhow! Your best bet is to make your way to Piazza Dante or Piazza Bellini, then to walk to via San Sebastiano number 19. Once you get there don’t look for outdoor bright lights or garish signs. The entrance is a discreet narrow doorway guarded by black-clad gladiators who screen all comers (and turn a fair number away.) To get in will cost you 5 euro (one-time membership fee), plus 10 euro for the evening, which includes one drink (ditto for your date, natch!)

So, park your jeans and sweatshirt for an evening and visit Galleria 19. You’ve seen the Tesoro di San Gennaro and San Giovanni a Carbonara in the morning, you’ve promenaded in Piazza San Domenico and had an aperitif at Scaturchio, you’ve had dinner at Palazzo Petrucci – now go ahead and help yourself to a dose of contemporary Naples. Tomorrow you’ll do Via dei Mille e Piazza dei Martiri, visit the Bourbon Tunnel, and dine at La Bersagliera – if there’s a better way to spend your days I don’t know what it is!

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