- FEBRUARY 2018 -
HOME - Bridge Italy - Bologna - Naples “Kissed by God and raped by Man”
“Kissed by God and raped by Man”
It is unrivalled for its artistic and cultural treasures and is the city where pizza, coffee, pasta, the tarantella, the nativity scene and tombola were born.
Home to philosophers like Giambattista Vico, composers like Scarlatti and actors like Totò.
It’s all to be found in the surprising book by young writer and journalist, Angelo Forgione
by Lino Patruno
SHARE Facebook Twitter

Naples. Posillipo, via Orazio. Terrace overlooking the sea. Photo by Giuseppe Guida

There’s a city which is unanimously considered a “unique and unrepeatable” wonder of the world. An Italian city.

It is one of the oldest in Europe and on the face of the Earth. In fact, according to U.N.E.S.C.O it is “the cradle of European civilization”. And its old town center is the biggest of those included in the world heritage sites on the U.N. lists. Italy was born around there with Aeneas’ landing, with the golden bough and with the Romans that defined it as the place “where pain disappears”.

It is the city that, unlike capitals like Rome Paris London, sprang up in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. A culture that has lasted three thousand years in an earthly paradise. That is why some consider it “the only real capital we have”.

Its language is the most widely spoken in the country after Italian. It is among the most widely spoken languages of world emigration.

It is the only city in the world that has not lost its character and its identity, stronger than any Americanization and every Chinesation. Apart from its language, its traditions, its music, its cinema, its theatre, its literature and its myth are unequalled.

It boasts the biggest and oldest opera house in Europe. Melodrama and Comic Opera were born under its sky. Mozart came here to drink it in and become Mozart.

Here Paisiello, Cimarosa, Mercadante, Piccinni, Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Traetta, Jannelli, Porpora and Leo were born (or became great).

Here the Melodic Song that crossed all borders was born. Its Festival di Piedigrotta was no less famous than the Rio Carnival or the Oktoberfest in Munich. This is the birthplace of O’ sole mio, as famous as the national anthem composed by Mameli.

Here the Sceneggiata, the Tarantella, the Curtain-raiser, the Character sketch and Variety itself were born. Here two universally famous stock comic characters like Punchinella and Totò were born.

Icons and universal flags like Pizza, Coffee, Coffee and Croissants, Rum Babas, Pasta, Macaroni, Mozzarella, Pastiera (a cake made with cottage cheese), Zeppola (a kind of doughnut), Parmigiana (eggplants with cheese and tomato), Ragout, Tomato sauce, Mpepata (mussels with pepper) and Tiramisu are fruits of its invention and vital energy. And if they weren’t all born here, they were all sent out into the world from here, and are no less widespread than Coca Cola.

The Nativity scene took off from here. And also Folk carols: it was Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, from here, who composed Tu scendi dalle stelle.

The games of Lotto and Tombola sprang up here. They invented the Smorfia here.

Hospitable and tolerant, it is the city that quashed Nazism and never built ghettoes. Catholic but secular, it stood alone in refusing the Inquisition; now it is embellished by an inexhaustible inheritance of a myriad churches and monasteries.

Its high-class men’s tailoring has created a style which takes its name from the city. And its artisans’ expertise has become of such cult value that it goes beyond even the famous multinational brand names.

Its artistic, cultural, archaeological, monumental and environmental treasures explain the strong appeal it still has for tourists, together with the surrounding area full of legendary names and places.

The run down of the city’s visiting card that I have so far given you is by no means an exaggerated claim for its forgotten charms. It’s really like this. Even if I don’t mention the events of its past which are part of a more controversial history. But there is no argument that between the 18th and the 19th centuries it was the cradle of Philosophy, Economic Science and the Italian Enlightenment. And that its economist Gaetano Filangieri with his Felicità delle nazioni inspired the U.S. Constitution and was the fore-runner of the more celebrated Scotsman Adam Smith and his Wealth of Nations. This is the city where Tommaso Campanella, Giordano Bruno, Pietro Giannone, Giovanbattista Della Porta, Antonio Genovesi, Celestino Galiani, Francesco Maria Pagano, Giuseppe Maria Galanti and Giovanbattista Vico were born (or became great). This is the city in which Giovanbattista Basile with his Lo cunto de li cunti and Giovanbattista Marino were the fore-runners of the literature of fables that had from Perrault on, so many foreign successors that were regularly more highly acclaimed. This is the city to which Frederick of Swabia in 1224 donated the first public university in the world.

P.S. The city I have been speaking about is Naples. And everything that has been said so far is contained in the book Made in Naples by young writer, journalist and graphic designer Angelo Forgione (foreword by Jean Noel Schifano, Magenes ed., 315 pp. 15 euro). Subtitle: Come Napoli ha civilizzato l’Europa (e come continua a farlo) [How Naples civilized Europe (and continues to do so)]”. An amazing book. Forgione refuses to be nostalgic and does not cover up the dramas, explaining to us why his city is “kissed by God but raped by Man”. He explains why Naples represents the whole of the South. But he adds that a country that loves itself should have more Naples and not less Naples in its soul. Because Naples is something grandiose that should not slip through our fingers. Starting from the capacity to last out that has enabled it to survive and live, despite everything, so “young and indomitable” for the last 29 centuries.

More articles
Culture   Eugenio Barba On Life and Theatrical Thought and Practice Culture   Mark Bradford and Wade Guyton Million dollar American art that’s taking Italy by storm Culture   “Poverty is sexist” The young ambassadors of ONE in Paris against extreme poverty Culture   The middle-eastern origin of blown glass, the pride of Venice Culture   “You don’t know the South” 
The culture of the South relaunched in Otranto Culture   Those Southern women who express the world Culture   Andy Warhol The immortal guru of Pop Art Culture   “Angels and saints in Chicago and Baltimora” Cultural exchanges between the University of Bari and the US Culture   Those farm women, thrilled at their first sight of the sea… Culture   My Puglia as seen from the UN Culture   Forty young Italians with ONE for the fight against world hunger Culture   “American Dreamers” The new dream of eleven American artists on show in Florence Culture   The Fulbright Project? An extraordinary opportunity for a cultural exchange
Books   Not even love transforms the Stock Exchange of destinies Books   And the dream of conquest turned into a mirage of the desert Books   Joseph’s Gargano Books   The tragedy of Mattmark A book so as not to forget Books   Journey through the gardens of Italy Books   When poetry investigates “time” Books   Amidst the storms of life it’s the strength of a loving heart that wins Books   That valley in the Gargano so rich in history that must not be forgotten Books   Grottaglie and its pottery through the life of the benefactor Vincenzo Calò Books   Eighty years of joyful culture Books   Sergeant Romano’s siege like in a movie Books   The magnificent eighty Books   San Marco in Lamis seen from its bell-tower Books   A great love for splendid Castro Books   Better not come home... Letters between Italy and America during the first World War Books   Story of a poet between Puglia and America Books   Worked to death under the sun of Puglia Books   When forgotten objects tell a life story Books   Masserie of Puglia Journey amidst Beauty Books   An excursion into the Salentine dialect … Mai pe iabbu Books   The moral revival of the South can start from its “best” Books   Life, anyway! Books   Rainbow of women Books   Amidst the mountains of Val d’Aosta …in pursuit of the culprit Books   …Once upon a time there was the past Writing about it to preserve the memory Books   Disorder and experimentation in the museum-houses of Ignazio Apolloni Books   Salento stories …in search of lost time Books   Pietro Marti, the great standard-bearer of Salento culture Books   Even tycoons cry Books   If a “whale” island appears one night out of nowhere… Books   From his ancestral Calabria to Roma Precious memories of a lifetime Books   The importance of rediscovering “fraternity” Books   In the wax museum to seek the dream of a better world Books   Once upon a time there was the padre-padrone Books   Second World War The drama of the fallen Books   On the Savannah lagoons …to heal Books   The meaning of the 20th century in the saga of the Stille family Books   In Fellini’s La dolce vita the germs of today’s Italy Basilicata   Craco The “second life” of a ghost town Po Delta   The Po Delta park Natural beauty and history Bari   “Cieli americani” in Bari Verona   Verona Shakespeare celebrated its beauty without ever having seen it Courmayeur   Courmayeur All the charm of the low season Ferrara   You can still dream in Ferrara Ferrara   “Action!” Amongst Ferrara’s myriad sets Music   Porretta Soul Festival The Italian Woodstock of black American music Matera   Pasolini-Matera Fifty years ago the first Gospel in the Sassi Naples   “Wood Stone and Friends” Jimmie Durham’s magic vitalism at the MADRE Naples   Art miracles at Vigna San Martino Naples   The Hermann Nitsch Museum From horror to awareness Bologna   Do you want to be FICO? In Bologna you can Bologna   Bologna “The Learned”, “The Fat”, “The Red” Bologna   At the MAMbo Arte Povera on display Polignano   From Brooklyn to Polignano Twelve artists out to conquer Europe Movies   With The Revenant DiCaprio rises again and aims for the Oscar Movies   Quo Vado? When the southern redneck turns politically correct Movies   When the cinema returns to the future Best of Italy   Andria Pietro Zito’s vegetable garden This is where his prize-winning dishes originate Best of Italy   The best Milanese panettone is… Salentine San Marino   “From Hopper to Warhol” on the gentle hills of San Marino San Marino   San Marino Historic appeal amidst breathtaking panoramas Turin   Reggia di Venaria Reale A treasure rediscovered Turin   The Egyptian Museum of Turin The immortal appeal of the Pharaohs Turin   “For President” Photogenic qualities will win the elections Padua   So much… In the city of the three “withouts” Milan   EXPO 2015 Not just food Milan   The oneiric inspirations of Joan Jonas Milan   “Autunno americano” Milan celebrates the States Milan   MILAN The metropolis is still “to drink” (…and “to eat”) Rome   “Empire State” New York is still the epicenter of art Venice   The immortal charm of the 
“Queen of the Sea” Venice   So many “Illumi/nations” with the Biennale d’Arte Rovigo   History and Art In the capital of the Polesine Rovigo   “Divisionism, the light of what is modern” 200 works on show in Rovigo