Over the summer season, travel journalist Tristan Rutherford sends Y.CO a postcard each weekend as he travels around Europe’s top superyacht destinations.
Naples, Italy, 30 June 2012
On 30th June 1984 Napoli football club signed striker Diego Armando Maradona for the world record fee of £6.9m. Before the diminutive Argentinean arrived from Barcelona, Napoli had only won a single trophy, the insignificant Cup of the Alps. Three years later – after Maradona’s Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup – Napoli lifted both the Serie A championship and the Coppa Italia.
Maradona’s lifestyle attracted greed on all fronts. A Rolls Royce lay outside his seaside home. ‘El Diego’ was gifted a Ferrari when his manager personally convinced Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli of the publicity value. A new $7m contract signed in the glamorous Hotel Paradiso “ensured that Maradona’s children will eat caviar for the rest of their lives” according to one contemporary report.
But the pundits were wrong. Maradona failed a dope test after the 1990 World Cup in Italy and never played for Napoli again. And the Hotel Paradiso? Well, it’s now a Best Western.
Back in 1984 things were different. Superstitious Neapolitans saw Maradona’s arrival as divine intervention and clogged the streets. A Diego body double was employed on the island of Capri to throw fanatics off his scent. Over 100,000 fans stuffed the San Paolo stadium and Naples’ seaside promenade.
Today, this same stretch of seafront offers a taste of Naples over an afternoon stroll. Rococo mansions mark the route. Knockout seafood restaurants line the quays. In 2012, this neighbourhood hosted a stage of the America’s Cup. An hour spent in the boutiques of via dei Mille will dispel Naples’ enduring myth: that its beauty lies in the past.
History buffs are still in for a treat, as Naples was once the world’s greatest port. A dozen empires decamped here. Each left their mark. The respective legacies of Greeks, Romans, Aragonese and French sum up the city’s sensuous attractions: tumbling streets, ancient ruins, Spanish castles and fine wines.
Sure enough, some quarters are not for the faint-hearted. The fish market of Porta Nolana is a living aquarium of octopus, tuna and squid. The historic district of Spaccanapoli is a colourful cauldron of speeding scooters, splendid churches and street markets. But an afternoon spent wandering Maradona’s adoptive home will make the Neapolitan myth ring true: Vedi Napoli e poi Muori – ‘See Naples and die’.
Wish you were here…