Vera Frankel had never seen the sun so bright or streets teeming with so many people. Lovers held hands, teenagers zoomed by on Vespas, and old women carried shopping bags laden with fruits and vegetables. Vera smelled sweat and cigarettes and gasoline.
The experience of arriving in Naples from Hungary made Vera remember the early spring days in Budapest when she was eight years old and recovering from diphtheria. The curtains in her room had been drawn back and she was allowed to sit outside and eat a bowl of plain soup. Nothing had ever tasted so good, and the scent of flowers in the garden was more intoxicating than her mother’s perfume.
All around her, people felt the same way now. The outdoor cafés overflowed with customers enjoying an espresso without fear of bombs exploding. They nodded at neighbours they had been too afraid to stop and talk to, and kissed boys returning from the front until their cheeks were raw. Eleven months ago the Allies had defeated the Nazis and the war in Europe was over.