Naples Miscellany 20 (late-February
- The easiest way to
drive to Bagnoli from anywhere on via Posillipo, the long
coast road that moves up from Mergellina, has always
been to drive up to the high west end of the road
and over the cliff (using the convenient Coroglio
road, of course). It winds down the other side of
the Posillipo hill and puts you out at the site of
the old steel mill near the isle of Nisida, then on the road
and along the coast to Pozzuoli.
The Coroglio road has always been very difficult
to maintain, being subject to landslides from the
cliff-face above. That cliff is webbed with steel
netting for much of its length. The road is closed
again after a hefty landslide and there is no
realistic forecast on how long it will take to
reopen. (In this photo, taken from the North Pier
in Bagnoli, the Coroglio road, from the bottom,
starts at the buildings at sea level and goes
through a series of switchbacks, running past the
entrance to the old Roman
Seiano grotto—visible low-left of center in
photo—and finishes out of view in the upper left
on top of the cliff.)
- A letter from
Giuseppe Verdi, dated May 27, 1861,
addressed to Leopoldo Tarantini, the administrator
of the San Carlo
theater at the time, has been acquired from a
private party for 4 million euros (about 5 million
dollars) by the Campania region of Italy (of which
Naples is the capital). The letter will be on
display in the Royal Palace.
In the letter, the composer expresses his regret
that he will unable to conduct his Un Ballo in maschera
at San Carlo after having initially accepted the
invitation to do so; he speaks of the possibility
of conducting the work at San Carlo at some later
date. Both the date and the opera are interesting.
(See this link.) The
Kingdom of Naples fell in February of 1861 at the
Siege of Gaeta; the new
Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed immediately. The
first opera in the new pan-Italian San Carlo was
of Legnano (which had actually opened in
January, while the siege in Gaeta was still going
on. The opera program of that season had nothing
to do with the Bourbons; Garibaldi had taken
Naples in September, 1860. Maybe he liked the Battle of Legnano.)
Ballo in maschera had originally been
composed for San Carlo in 1857 but was rejected by
the Neapolitan censors. It was originally called Una vendetta in
domino and dealt with the assination
of Swedish king Gustav III in the 1790s. After
being watered down with a different title,
time-frame and location, the work still didn't
pass censorial muster, so Verdi broke his
contract, sued San Carlo and had the work
performed in its censored version (now the
tradtional one) in Rome in February, 1859. The
letter comes only a few months after the
unification of Italy and one wonders whether the
letter had to do with which version of the opera
was under discussion. In any event, the revised Un ballo in maschera
played at San Carlo the next season (1861/61)
under another conductor.
- "Carnevale, ogni scherzo vale"
is the Italian expression that indicates that you
can play any prank you want on Mardi Gras, sort of
like a combination of April Fool's Day and
Halloween in other places. Such pranks usually
have to do with throwing flower and eggs on
people—hah-hah—and now inflicting even more damage
with handy-dandy spray paint cans. No more.
(Sure.) The mayor has just signed a law that
imposes a 200 euro fine on offenders (or their
legal guardians, since most offenders are minors)
and 400 for repeat offenders.
about it, punk?
you feel lucky?
- Neighborhood Watch
patrols in Naples are about to get the go-ahead
from the city government. No one is sure if it's a
good idea. Theft and vandalism have been such a
problem that shop-owners along the east end of
Corso Umberto, near the train station, have banded
together and proposed the idea of heavily armed,
"Make-my-Day"-vigilantes stringing up
ne'er-do-wells ...no...no... of unarmed civilian
patrols whose mere presence will deter evil-doers.
There is a model for this in some towns in
northern Italy. The Vatican is against it, but I
don't know why.
- The restored church of
Sant'Anna dei Lombadi,
also known as Santa
Maria di Monteoliveto has been reopened
for visitors. Even in a city full of historic
churches, this one is particularly worthwhile.
(See the above link.)
- The umpteenth on-again
plans for the future of Bagnoli are now off again.
You can catch up on the past at Bagnoli and Bagnoli, future (1)
(2). In any
event, the paper reports this morning that there
is no money for anything—not for building the new
boat harbor (the one that never got built because
Naples lost out in its bid for the 2007 Americas
Cup, and certainly not for the "Napoli Studios,"
the film studio that was to be a "Cinecittà in the
shadow of Vesuvius" (in reference to the famous
film complex in Rome) built on the gigantic
ex-premises of the defunct Italsider steel mill.
Rest assured, says someone, that the land will be
cleaned up in time to be used as a seaside venue
for something called Culture Forum 2013.