Los Angeles photographer Susan Berry captures her friend Giti posing for Sommer Swim, surrounded by the vibrant local residents embracing summer in Napoli, Italy.
My first day in Naples I was strolling along the coast and taking in the scenery. A group of very bronze men invited me to have lunch with them by motioning me to sit with them and then pouring pasta onto a plate in front of me and handing me a little cup of wine. Even when I was full of fresh pasta, they shovelled more food in my mouth and shouted “MANGIARE! MANGIARE!”(eat! eat!) Their energy was so lively and carefree. I couldn’t help but giggle with disbelief and excitement that I stumbled upon such a welcoming group of strangers, despite not speaking the same language.
I spent the rest of the day lounging in the Italian sun and soaking up the day with them. When the sun went down and we said our goodbyes, my new friends invited me to come back again the next day which I did for the next few days of my trip. My friend, Giti arrived to meet me in Naples a few days later, and I wanted to relive the experiences I’d been having on my own with her and capture their unique spirits in photos by incorporating my new friends and Giti into a photoshoot.
The way that they live their lives slowly, enjoying meals seaside communally with friends was something that truly inspired me. I especially loved the feeling of the camaraderie around meals, which I think sometimes tends to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life these days. But these classic Italian men are still doing this tradition right and have mastered the art of “dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing.
The feeling I get in Napoli is palpable charm. I’ve never experienced a culture so unique and strong in its traits. Everywhere you go someone is there to greet you into their lives with a coffee or a welcoming pat or kiss on the face, paired with a smile and a laugh.
My time with these one-of-a-kind characters was spent just enjoying the day together where words weren’t needed. This was also due to the language barrier. Any communication exchange was done by using Google Translate- which was also a little difficult because they would just yell Italian sentences at a rapid pace into my phone while simultaneously waving their hands and the translator wouldn’t be able to catch up with their thoughts. However, my most cherished moment captured through the translator was when I was saying my final goodbyes on my last day with them. One man told me “Ti porteremo nel nostro cuore” which translates to “We will carry you in our heart.” I’m still so touched by that one sentence. It’s funny to think how a few days spent with absolute strangers can become such core lifelong memories. I will remember these men fondly for the rest of my life and I will also carry them in my heart.