Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

 © Jeff Matthews  entry 2004 

No, Not Bourbon and Coffee. Bourbon Coffee.


I swear that this is exactly what the home page blurb for Caffè Borbone has up in English:

A monday morning, on the 10th of May 1984, Charles of Borbon, before coming to Tokio, wanted to stop in the convent of Minimi Friars, just outside Porta Capitone. He wanted to taste that dark beverage, rich of intense scents, with strong and decided taste, that was told to possess the property to strengthen the body and the soul, and that was prepared so scrupulously by the friars for the new King. That was the period during the which the Neapolitan taste in preparing the coffee was born. And 2500 years later, the technologies change and get better, but the passion and the care in preparing the real coffee in the Neapolitan way is stronger for us, as only neapolitan people are able to do.

Astute historians will note that the merry prankster webmeister (whose grandfather apparently took two Berlitz lessons in English in 1949) is goofing around. I looked at the Italian page and it has the correct “ Napoli” for “Tokio” and, correctly, “Porta Capuana” for “Capitone” (a large eel). It also has the correct “250 years” for “2500” years. Strangely, however, the date is wrong even in the Italian, which has “1894” and not “1984.” The correct year for Charles III of Bourbon to have entered Naples as the new king would have been 1734. (Of course, there was a descendant Charles of Bourbon alive in 1984, but his kingdom had long since gone belly up.) (Interestingly—or maybe not—that wrong date, 1894, is the year in which the last Bourbon king of Naples, Francis II, the great-great-grandson of the first Bourbon king, died; furthermore, I will bet you one coffee with lots of Bourbon in it that the people who run that website don't know that.)

Stranger than the mistakes, intentional and unintentional, is the picture in the ad. I’m not sure that this is really Charles III, the benevolent and capable first king of the Bourbon dynasty. It looks rather like his son, the moronoid Ferdinand—the Lout King, King Big Nose. He stares out at you from the billboard next to the filling station, holds up his cup of Caffè Borbone and asks, “And you?—What do you drink?” Actually, if he were around to see this, he’d get a kick out of it. This was the monarch who used to wander down to the harbor and help the fisherman sell their wares after the morning’s catch. Now he’s selling coffee. If, on the other hand, it really is his father, the dignified and very royal Charles III—well, he would not be amused. (Much later: yes, it really is Charles III.)

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