| Naples: Life, Death & Miracles
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main index © Jeff Matthews
Naples Miscellany 1
Links to all Naples Miscellany pages
Over the past few weeks (as of May 2007), a number of items have caught my interest. Among them:
[See this 2013 update: UNESCO sites in Campania.]
—The Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy has purchased the large and abandoned building on via Arenaccia that used to house SIP (the old phone company and one of those that merged to form Telecom Italia in the 1990s). The building is to become a mosque. There are two schools of thought: (1) We don’t want more “creeping Islam” in Italy; (2) The new structure will help rejuvenate one of the most decrepit areas in the city. It would; I am betting on number two. Economics trumps ideology every time. (See also "Islam in Naples" , "Early Islam in Italy" and From Fish Market to Mosque.)
is now called “Chinatown” has mushroomed up
behind the main train station and runs along the
industrial port of Naples into the adjacent
communities of San Giuseppe Vesuviano, Terzigno,
Ottaviano, San Gennaro, Poggiomarino and Boscoreale.
There are now about 800 small enterprises: wholesale
stores, restaurants, grocers, small warehouses, and
manufacturers of textiles, shoes, and general
leather goods, etc. The Chinese community numbers
about 6,000 and is represented by Si.Ci.Na
(Sindacato Cinese Nazionale—Chinese National Labor
Union). To some extent, the Chinese-run enterprises
in Naples employ local Neapolitan labor—a big plus
in a city with rampant unemployment. The bad news is
that they have to pay off “the mob” to stay open.
Naples, there are more than 3000 school
children whose native language is either Arabic or
Chinese. In Caserta, there are 2000 and in Salerno
1500. The Campania region has commissioned the
printing of textbooks on Italian geography and
history in those two languages in order to
accommodate members of these linguistic minorities
who might require them. Parents of children
requiring the texts may request them by email.
Great Naples Copper Caper. I had never heard
copper referred to as “red gold” until a number of
items started appearing in the papers about copper
theft at industrial sites. In Naples, there now
appears to be a small band of grave robbers
dedicated to stealing copper from local cemeteries.
So far, about 40 copper funerary vases have
disappeared. They are generally mounted on wall
crypts and used to hold flowers.
—The number of “child brides”
(by definition, below the age of 18) continues
to fall in Italy (from 1,562 in 1993 to 456 in
2002). Of that number, however, half (233) were
in the Campania region, of which Naples is the
International Horse Jumping Competition at
(photo, right), the third edition of which is
currently underway. It’s beautiful to watch and
is well attended. It’s a four-day affair. The
entire square, the largest open square in
Naples, is converted into a suitable venue by
the abundant spreading of pseudo-earth (a
high-tech mixture of chemical non-slip material)
over the otherwise unsuitable and treacherous
paving stones. Get a horse? Hay is not five
dollars a gallon, so maybe it’s the way to go.
first, they thought it was the fault of
recent rain, but apparently leaky plumbing has
caused a considerable amount of water to burst
into one of the most historical houses of
worship in Naples, the church of Gesù Nuovo,
located in the square of the same. Some
damage—the extent as yet undetermined—has been
done to works of two of the great names in
Neapolitan (and Italian) Baroque art, Luca Giordano and Cosimo Fanzago.