Monday, January 8, 2007

Home, er, Sweet, uh, Home

We are back in Naples, where it is raining, after five glorious, sunny days in Barcelona. The husband, mine, began to warm to the idea of moving there, but still appears to be itching for digs in a smaller, seaside, Spanish town. At least Spain feels like a possible move from Italy. You fly over the Mediterranean and you're there. It's practically across the street!

The Spanish -- the Catalans, at least -- do not fawn over babies like the Italians -- the Neapolitans, at least -- do. The Spanish do not give you dirty looks and curse you for bumping into them with your stroller.

Naples looked so gray when we landed, not just because of the rain. The city is so dirty. There are piles and piles of garbage everywhere because the city, the region, the country has not figured out where to dump it. This is a Camorra issue, for sure. The Camorra, in case you didn't know, are the Neapolitan mafia. We Americans just throw the term mafia over all organized crime like a slice of Kraft American cheese over a hamburger. (That's probably a simile that only works for me). The Sicilian mafia, cosa nostra, is called the mafia here in Italy. In Campania, they are the camorra, in Calabria, the 'Ndrangheta, in Puglia the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown? Sounds like a charity run by nuns. Creepy.). Call them what you will, they really fuck things up.

There are neighborhoods (quartieri) in Naples that are Camorra zones. Every now and then, a war breaks out, people are killed, chalk body outlines grace the cobblestones. Italian television shows a body covered with a sheet, its (his, usually) feet sticking out, and sometimes a shoulder, the body lying next to a car (the victim is often about to get in his car when he is gunned down...or maybe he was shot in the middle of the street and the cops just roll him closer to the curb...gosh, this is morbid). Then Italian television shows the backs of people's heads, some asphalt, the gate in front of the victim's house (or maybe the intercom), several people's lower legs, maybe a couple of Carabinieri (or, more likely, their car). I do not understand the filming techniques of Italian tv cameramen.

The Carabinieri are one of the four law enforcement arms in Italy.

Pizzo means extortion in Italian. Thus, Naples is famous for both pizzo and pizza.

Neapolitans who live in Camorra-controlled areas often defend the Camorra because they feel they are the only people looking out for them. Most Neapolitans feel abandoned by the Italian government (most of the inhabitants of southern Italy as well). The police are scoffed at. They might as well be playing dress-up in their gray and blue uniforms with fuchsia piping (yes, fuchsia). Sometimes the local women will attack the police if they catch them trying to arrest one of their sons in the piazza downstairs from their apartments. The police will chase a mugger into his quartiere, catch him, and then meet with raving napoletane, screaming banshees waving their fists and smacking the shit out of these castrated officers of the peace. It's quite a show.

The amount that I rag on Naples and the fact that I get defensive when other foreigners rag on Naples is proof that I am becoming Neapolitan. I will admit that I missed Neapolitan cuisine. I have a hankering for some pasta and some contorni (vegetable side dishes). Of course, there is no food in the house, so I have to wait for the husband (my husband shall henceforth be called "the husband") to return from his spin around the center of town with a stop at Gianni the Salumiere for much needed staples such as prosciutto crudo and some sharp goat cheese. For now, I will eat bran flakes out of the box.

1 comment:

Alexandre Napoli said...

Great text! Just discovered your blog and I'm loving it. By the way: depite my surname, I'm brazilian. Some ancestors of mine may have come from that city you're living in though. I think my great-grandfather was napoletano; not sure. Anyway, congrats for the blog!