I’m celebrating with a post I’ve meant to write for such a looong time, but it took me months of terrible research and supreme sacrifice to write it down because, when in Naples, you can’t simply say “pizza”: you have to try ‘em all. The history of pizza begins a long long time ago, but “modern pizza” developed in Naples in the 18th century when tomato was put on top of the Roman “focaccia” (flat bread).
I walk through the curtain that separates, but –at the same time- links, the genuine neighbourhood of San Lorenzo from Palazzo Donnaregina, the 19th-century building that is home to the contemporary art museum of Naples. It’s a garish curtain, which without a big preamble leads into a visionary space designed by Daniel Buren. The French artist has, in fact, transformed the rigid architectural lines of this elegant palace into a wonderland of colourful panels, mirrors and disorientating perspectives that create infinite reflections, deconstructing and inverting the usual look of the entrance to the museum.
I duck out from all the shouting and enter the first wing on the right, where I find the Collezione Farnese, originally located in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, this collection of ancient sculptures put together first by Pope Paolo III and later by his descendants.
A picture is worth a thousand words but, in this case, a picture is not enough. To get the full potential of this street art project organized by Inward you must walk around Parco Merola (Ponticelli), a disadvantaged area in the eastern outskirts of Naples. You must step into the decaying courtyard, meet the people living here and see the neglected buildings with your own eyes to understand that everything that has been written about the Neapolitan outskirts isn’t just words in a newspaper, but actual social contexts that, with a thoughtful work based on street art but also on discussion and understanding, can change.
Last time I was in Naples, I fell in love with the panoramic view over the city from Castello Sant’Elmo on the Vomero hill. So, when I heard about a jazz rag’n blues concert organized by Campania Grand Tour to be held at the castle as a tribute to Enrico Caruso, I knew I had to be there. The concert was inside the former prison of the castle, now the Napoli Novecento museum, which houses a collection of works by local artists from the last century.
I’m back in Naples, and on a very special day too! September 19th is San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, and on this day thousands gather in Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of what is claimed to be a sample of Januarius’ blood. If the liquefaction happens fast, it means that is going to be a very prosperous year but, being not superstitious, I was hoping it would have happened somewhere after 4pm, as I was arriving with an afternoon train and I wanted to take part in the procession and witness the alleged miracle.