My bus driver from Ischia Port asks me if it's okay by me (the only passenger) if he speeds round this circuit, it's the last of the day and nobody's out on a Sunday night. As we go, I tell him about why I'm on Ischia at the moment. He tells me, for the next half hour of hairpin bends and avoiding other vehicles, exactly how much better his grandma's bread was that anything he can buy now. "It would last for a long time, but even when it was stale, we'd halve it, dry it in the oven and eat it as a new thing." When he, too, claims: "We never throw anything away here", I'm cynical-"Really?" (I've been in Napoli, I've SEEN bread in a bin with my own eyes). He concedes that it's not the case any more. But you'd never throw away bread like that of his Nonna's...Arriving at the hostel I'd booked and finding it dark and locked up, I begin to panic. It's nearly midnight and I consider just curling up on their step with my blanket and reading Pinocchio 'til I fall asleep. (No really! Pinocchio is such a beautiful story - and he has a hat made of bread!) But then a lady drives by, scrutinising me carefully. This is not unusual: -I think as long as One remains a signorina rather than a signora, One is public property for a good old stare. However, I jump up, get her to wind down her window and explain my predicament, and she says she thinks she knows another place. She drives me back the way I came, then down a side road, down another smaller road, to a pair of solid gates.
She leaves me here at the New Horizons centre, a Catholic institution for recovering alcoholics, ex-homeless people and others with problems. Everyone comes out of their rooms to see what's going on and the capo of the centre tells me the problem, for him, is that I'm not wearing a wedding ring. No need to remind me. I am completely delighted anyway, to be welcomed in and given a room.
Someone suggests I might be hungry and the two young guys on night duty slip into the kitchen and magically create - at one o-clock in the morning - a hot bowl of perfect pasta with meat sauce. It comes with bread, which is stale but has been heated in the oven to give it another chance. The bread is black on the outside, from its first cooking. The bitter burnt flavour of the crust competes with a tangy, slightly sour-perfumed crumb. I ask where the bakery is found, and get three different replies and lots of laughing. "Where am I, now?" Tomorrow, vediamo.