on the tradition of the Neapolitan manger displays
known as the presepe,
or crib, may be found at these links:(1)(2)(3)(4). There is also a
nation-wide organization, A.I.A.P, Associazione italiana
amici del Presepio (the alternate spelling of
Association of Friends of the Presepio] that has
existed since 1953 and has chapters throughout Italy
and in Spain and Malta. The Naples chapter has
displays, of course, every year as Christmas nears.
This year, the chapter presents its XXIV Display of
Presepe Art on the premises of the church of San Severo al
Pendino on via Duomo. Almost 50 artists
currently working in the presepe tradition will present
examples of their work. The display runs through Jan
10, but A.I.A.P. is also sponsoring a ceremony on Feb
27 to present awards to pupils taking part in a
presepe-building competition in schools throughout the
city. (And, incidentally, if you have not had the
chance to see the Maltese language in print, have a
look at their
(Dec 19) This is why it takes so
long to build train lines around here (as if
imperial Roman villas at the
construction site at the whenever-to-be-opened
Via Duomo station weren't enough!) As you may see
elsewhere in these pages (here & here, for example),
the number 6 underground choo-choo is making progress
along the seaside and the Villa
Comunale. Down below, the giant mechanical
“mole” is eating the earth, and workers are up on top
preparing the stations of the future. Yesterday they
dug up a skeleton. It ranks apparently as an
archaeological find, maybe a fisherman from long ago,
maybe even Roman. But they had to stop digging and
call the cops. It's probably nothing suspicious or
criminal; on the other hand, maybe this is a job for
Kathy Reichs, the real "Bones."
(Dec 20) I don’t know if I can
digest any more news about the splendid future of Bagnoli,
a place that makes the phrase “a totally degraded pit”
seem like precious understatement. In any event, the
announcement has just come through that, thanks to 76
million euros from European funds, the grand Bagnoli
Green Park is on its way to being realized. It’s true
that they said more or less the same thing 15 years
ago, but this time...just you watch. We’re talking
about 120 hectares (almost 300 acres), an area as
large as the grounds of the great royal palace of
Caserta, much of it on land that used to contain the
Italsider steel mill in Bagnoli, all full of trees,
flowers, lakes and fountains. Stay tuned. Fifteen
years from now, I may have a similar notice for you.
city is at the beginning of a five-month Baroque binge.
There will be exhibits and tours going on at five of
the major museums in the city: Capodimonte, San Martino, the Villa Floridiana, the Villa Pignatelli and the Royal Palace. From the
brochure describing it all: "Back to the Baroque will
focus on the many deeply rooted attitudes and
practices that characterized Naples in the Baroque
era...[from 1600 to 1750, when]...the city was riven
by constant contrasts of vice and virtue, poverty and
excess, criminality and nobility...[and...]...was
perceived and experienced as a vast stage where the
human condition was played out...The Baroque thus
becomes both a metaphor and a concrete manifestation
of the condition of Naples and Neapolitans."
(Dec 21)A calendar for
the homeless. A remarkable photographic exhibit
is underway at the church of Santa
Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta on via dei Tribunali
in the historic center of Naples. Twelve
well-known Neapolitans, including Olympic swimmer
Massimiliano Rosolino and singer Peppino di Capri have
lent their services and images to photographer
Salvatore Sparavigna, who has produced a calendar for
the coming year. Each month displays a stark image of
one of the twelve posed as a homeless person, whatever
that pose may entail in dress and surroundings. The
exhibit bears the name "Se mia strada fosse stata un'altra"
[lit. "If my path had been different"—or perhaps
better in English as the expression "There but for the
grace of God go I." The exhibit runs through Jan 7.
All proceeds from the sale of the calendars go to
charities for the homeless.
Milanese fashion designers, Relish, are coming
under criticism in Naples for an ad featuring this
photo (right) of a guard frisking a young woman. It
has appeared at various spots in the city, and voices
in city hall, including that of mayor Iervolino (a
woman), are calling for a ban on ads that “offend the
dignity of women.” I have seen many ads that are worse
than this, and this is the first time I’ve heard
protests. (Also see this
(Dec 31) New Year’s Eve. We’re
waiting to see if the predictions pan out or not.
Naples usually leads the list of Italian cities for
incidents in which people are injured by fireworks.
Over the past few weeks, people have been hoarding
illegal fireworks (too explosive, too shoddily made,
etc. etc.) and cops have been confiscating them at an
alarming rate. Many of the devices hardly classify as
“firecrackers”; they are small bombs packed in paper.
Many of them are imported illegally from Asia.
Authorities and hospital ER’s around the city expect
(Jan 1) It could have been worse.
There were 28 injuries in the city of Naples and 41
others in the rest of the province of Naples. Of the
69 total, 10 were children. Elsewhere in the Campania
region, Caserta reported 14 injuries; Salerno, 15.
Those numbers are fewer than last year, and almost all
of the injuries were minor burns on the hands. Fire
fighters were busy, as usual.
(Jan 2) Oops, that was an
early optimistic count. With all precincts now
reporting, 509 people in Italy showed up at hospitals
with fireworks-related injuries. Of that number, 120
were in the Campania region and, of those, 73 were in
Naples, the capital of the region. There were a few
arrests, including one joker who was firing an
automatic rifle from his balcony. Coppers went up and
found another automatic weapon with the serial number
filed off and €125,000 in cash. Said joker is now
"assisting the authorities" in their investigation.
(Jan 6)The “Federico II”
University of Naples has just put on-line a
remarkable library on the camorra (the Neapolitan version of
the Mafia). There are two centuries of history,
including access to old documents, newer essays on
such things as the language and slang of the camorra,
a bibliography of books that have dealt with the
subject, films, poetry and music. The site, at least
so far, is only in Italian, but if you can handle it,
is the link.
(Jan 7)The national Lotteria Italia
has been drawn, as it is every Jan. 6. The lottery
awards 91 winners with sums ranging from €500,000 (2
winners) down to €20,000 (75 winners).
Interestingly, there was a 37% drop in the number of
tickets bought in Italy compared to last year's
lottery; that is strange for a people obsessed with
lotteries and systems and schemes. None of the big
winners was in Naples, but three of the paltry €20,000
winners were. I was not one of them. I take no
pleasure in such consistency in the universe.