All day the fireworks cracked. At midnight they became apocalyptic. From the terrace we stare out across Naples to Vesuvius across thousands of small fires. A carpet of fireworks is spread evenly across the whole city and beyond. The same tiny fireworks flash irregularly up the lower slopes of Vesuvius until the housing ceases. It’s very much like sitting at night, watching the embers of a dying bonfire when they’ve turned to black. If you stir them, they come to life again in brilliant orange points of light.

Slow red flares and occasionally the spreading puffball of a larger rocket punctuate the constant flickering of cheap fireworks. At midnight, the outline of the collapsed cone is a black silhouette with the small fireworks pouring down its flanks, but ten minutes into the New Year Vesuvius has entirely vanished. The urgent acrid smell of gunpowder burns in my throat. Looking down, I see a black cat streaking under the banked up cars which are jammed higgledy piggledy into the hotel forecourt. A huge bat swoops toward the tower above me on the right as behind me on the terrace a family group sets fire to a whole box of the same cheap fireworks that I see everywhere about. They weakly explode in a snapping gravelly cascade. Their sound mingles with the flow of explosions hammering out over the whole land surrounding me for many miles in every direction. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. Nor will I again. It’s curiously democratic. Rather than a municipal display of glory, the fun of setting a flame to a wick is distributed, seemingly, across the entire population.

31.12.2016, Pompei