poster on a peeling tenement wall says ‘Napoli non e una cartonlina'. Naples isn‘t a postcard. The classic view of Vesuvius skims the rooftops ofthe city. are like the tourists offto Capri the publicists of Naples seem unwilling to enter the labyrinth below. Old Naples- the Centro Storico is squashed into the gridplan laid out by the original Greek colonists in the 5th century BC. lts Baroque churches and palazzi loom over streets the width of Pompeii‘s that are often clogged with traffic nippy Vespas and the utilitarian 3-wheelers are best-adapted. A finger-on-the-buzzer habit means that pedestrians are quite safe though the shrine ofthe Holy Face of Jesus is full ofex-votos for tragic teenage scooter riders. It takes a sea breeze blowing offthe Bay to clear the fumes completely.

Lord Palmerston rather snootily described Naples as ‘The only colonial city without a European quarter‘. In a sense he was right Naples feels more part of a wider Mediterranean culture than purely Italian. The African heat of midsummer in Naples is countered by lofty ceilings. shady courtyards and balconies where families gather to watch life go by in the cool of evening. The washing lines strung across the streets half-filter the sun like the slats above a souk.

The Quarters of the Centro Storico are still heavily populated uniquely in post-industrial Europe with all the intimacy and strain of overcrowding that must have existed in the old (‘ity of London or Edinburgh closes. Many families live in one-room bussi in the Spanish Quarter and decamp to the street for extra living room. Inside there‘s usually several bulbous wardrobes. a colour TV booming soaps and quiz

.. ‘Afi’g v; v 1-3.3 - _- . 7- f; r“{“:#1}:‘€rfl?tifn x- ‘04“, raj :. P_ . " ffiw ; . . " in; A -- “‘m ' .~. .- .~- "'"~'( e u. 1),)“ v v (a v i M ' -; . j ' .- . ~' . . U 3:9 . s = S, : ~ ' Ms: , N ’. [up K . ‘~ . ;, 4‘ 2 ' '...,. A lg; A i-QKLEI' ' .

As the Festival celebrates Neapolitan art. Gooch reports from the city itself.






shows. an ailing grandmother and a

Fauma Mbccuvgx Q .

"w .--' ..« i..."

crucifix over the bed.

The street-corner shrines are brightly painted. decked with flowers. dedicated to the sickly Madonna dell'Arco subject of a local cult that enjoys letting off fire crackers while carrying her effigy shoulder high. or San Gennaro the city‘s patron saint. Below each shrine is a tableau of four stock figures an old man, young man. priest and prostitute burning in hell-fire. Photographs of the dead are packed in around the dusty

flames and the bare bulb.

At night the shrines glow with blue neon. streetlamps create a stagey. shadowy world ghostly laundry wafting above and the flicker ofTV‘s through half-closed shutters.

Naples is a port home base of the US 6th Fleet and the shadows are busy at night. Transvestites and transexuals show off their silicone breasts and suspiciously long legs. A favourite Neapolitan pastime is to tour the boulevard between the station and the opera house spotting and teasing the talent.

Despite its frenzied piety. Naples has always been a steamy city. The villas of Pompeii all had a little engraved phallus at the front door for good luck; the graffiti-smothered walls of Naples are dense with scribbled willies ofevery size and the twisty red plastic ‘horns' that ward offthe Evil Eye hang in every hallway.

The city's lurid reputation for chaos. corruption. poverty and crime has some truth but obscures its dominant mood ofgood-humoured theatricality. Traffic is out of hand many people live off its fat: parking and shuffling cars in the clogged piazzas or repairing the dents in hole-in-the-wall Autoriparazione with their obligatory oily Alsatian. Small boys wash windscreens at the

'.\ \

,. l


The List 19— 25 August 1988 79