Tag Archives: naples

Naples musters its best and brightest to pull off the America’s Cup

Anthony M. Quattrone

America's Cup World Series catamarans in the Bay of Naples (photo from facebook site: Napoli poesia d'Italia...divine napoletane!)

Naples has mustered its best and brightest in getting the city ready to host the World Series of the America’s Cup from 11 through 15 April 2012.  Evening photographs of the bay of Naples with catamarans lit up and a full moon over Mount Vesuvius have been flooding the Internet, in magnificent opposition to the images that circulated worldwide only ten months ago which showed a city submerged under mountains of garbage.

Since the election of mayor Luigi de Magistris on 31 May 2011, Naples has undergone rapid change, which includes rigorous limitations on private vehicle circulation downtown, higher levels of waste recycling and an overall sense of regained civic participation in the administration of the city, with numerous bottom-up events empowering citizens.  During the past ten months, citizen groups like “CleaNap”, “Friarielli Ribelli”, “VANTO”, and “Orange Revolution”, to mention a few, have literally taken over cleaning and maintenance of squares and gardens, trying to complement the work that the over-stretched city sanitation and grounds maintenance service could not accomplish, and have brought to the attention of city officials numerous monuments and places of interest that needed their immediate attention.

Bay of Naples with lit America's Cup catamarams in the water (photo from Facebook: Napoli poesia d'Italia...divine napoletane!)

Mayor de Magistris has also been able to develop the necessary synergy with other local officials to ensure that the America’s Cup events could take place with the maximum positive effect for the city.  He put aside political differences with Region President, Stefano Caldoro, and with Provincial President, Luigi Cesaro, to ensure that the three levels of government would facilitate holding the World Series in the Bay of Naples.  The three officials, together with Paolo Graziano, president of the Industrial Employers Association of Naples and CEO of the America’s Cup Naples organization, pulled off the event which officially started on Sunday 8 April 2012 with an evening show in Piazza del Plebiscito (the former Largo di Palazzo) opposite the Royal Palace, with thousands of people in attendance in spite of a persistent rain.  During the opening ceremony, the seven teams were introduced to the crowd.

There will be nine boats in the water, with two teams, Oracle and Luna Rossa, competing with two boats each.  The other catamarans will be competing for China Team, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team , and Team Korea.

According to a strategic plan reviewed by the press, the America’s Cup will cost approximately 20 million Euro while the income should be three times that amount.  Supporters and critics of the event are battling on the Web arguing about the cost and the real effect on the city.  For critics, the operation is only a façade covering up real problems relating to waste management in the province of Naples.  For supporters, the event will be a success on its own merit and it will be a catalyst for further improvement in the city.

Bikers enjoy the waterfront closed to traffic on 2 April 2012. (Photo by Antonella Maiorano)

Mayor de Magistris sees the America’s Cup as an enabler for implementing changes that his administration had already planned.  For example, Via Caracciolo, the scenic waterfront hosting the America’s Cup Village, which is currently closed to traffic due to the World Series, will remain a pedestrian walkway even after the races.  The mayor proudly announced on Easter Sunday that the waterfront will now be a pedestrian walkway connecting the port to the foot of the Posillipo hill.

Click for more information from the AC World Series web site

Click for the schedule of events

Information on Naples and sorrounding areas

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America’s Cup World Series in Naples – final countdown

Course map -- photo by ACEA
Click on photo for full size map.

Anthony M. Quattrone

Events are scheduled to take place from 11 through 15 April 2012

Naples is almost ready for the World Series of the America’s Cup. The water front road, Via Caracciolo, which is closed to traffic, is hosting the Village where the different sailing teams will be setting their headquarters. The whole downtown area is undergoing major traffic rerouting and the City is attempting to make last minutes repairs to pot holes and general asphalt maintenance.

The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, appears to be quite satisfied with the general reaction of the population to the many restrictions imposed on traffic, but he and his team remain open to suggestions from different stakeholders who lament that certain policies have gone a little too far, causing a downturn in income for restaurants, pubs, and bars, especially during the evening hours.

Mayor de Magistris is experiencing a surge in popularity with almost 70 percent of the population approving his performance, making him the best-liked mayor in all of Italy. His sternness with respect to law and order coupled with his attention to the weaker segments of the population has allowed him to implement dramatic changes in everyday life of most Neapolitans, especially in the area of downtown living conditions.

The Mayor has decided that Via Caracciolo will remain closed to traffic also after the end of the World Series. His intention is to transform the waterfront into an area where citizens can enjoy a peaceful walk without any concern for vehicles, noise and bust from traffic.

The extension of the breakwaters in front of Via Caracciolo is well under way. The new breakwaters infrastructure is required to allow the AC World Series teams to safely launch and hoist the AC45 catamarans from flat water behind the protective barrier during the training and actual competition which will start on 11 April 2012.

Mayor de Magistris stated that “The city is getting ready to host the event in the best possible way. There is much enthusiasm and the desire to participate is palpable. I am sure that this event there is not going to be only a sporting event, but it will also be a flywheel for real development, from tourism to employment. The AC World Series will provide great visibility to the already exceptional setting of the waterfront of via Caracciolo. This event will allow us all to fully enjoy the beauty of the sea, of the beach and of the landscape of our city”.

The clock is ticking to the final countdown. Go Naples!

Click for more information from the AC World Series web site

Click for the schedule of events

Read also “Where it happens” published by the America’s Cup World Series staff

Information on Naples and what to visit

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Naples has a new mayor: Luigi de Magistris

Anthony M. Quattrone

Official campaign poster: Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples

New mayor wins with 65% of vote

A former magistrate, Luigi de Magistris, is the new mayor of Naples. He has been elected today during a runoff between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes during the first round held two weeks ago. He defeated Gianni Lettieri, an entrepreneur representing a center right coalition supported by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The new mayor is a member of the European Parliament where he is the Chair of the Budgetary Control Committee. He was elected in 2009 representing the Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) party, which is affiliated with the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe formation in the European Parliament.

De Magistris is a 43 old native of Naples. He is married to the former Maria Teresa Dolce and has two sons. He became a public prosecutor in 1995, with assignments in Naples from 1998 to 2002, and as deputy public prosecutor in Catanzaro, Italy, from 2002 to 2009. He entered the European Parliament as the second most voted Italian politician after Silvio Berlusconi. During the course of his career as public prosecutor, his investigations have frequently run into political roadblocks leading to his transfer and attempt to subject him to internal disciplinary measures. One of his investigations caused serious controversy leading to the resignation of Clemente Mastella, the Italian Minister of Justice, in 2008, causing the fall of the center-left government led by Romano Prodi.

Luigi de Magistris decided to run for the seat of mayor of Naples after that the center left primaries were cancelled last January due to alleged irregularities on the part of supporters of the very influential politician Antonio Bassolino, an ex-communist former mayor of Naples and former governor of the Campania Region. De Magistris announced his candidacy for mayor in February and he was supported by a coalition of three parties, his own Italia dei Valori, the Federation of the Left, and the relatively new Partito del Sud (Party of the South). A citizens’ list also, “Napoli è tua” (Naples is yours) supported him.

During the two-round runoff competition, Luigi de Magistris obtained approximately 28 percent of the vote, second to Gianni Lettieri with approximately 38 percent. The candidate of the center left, Mario Morcone scored slightly below 20 percent and the candidate for the center, Professor Raimondo Paquino scored approximately 9 percent. During the negotiations between the different coalitions, De Magistris refused an official agreement with the center-left, but appealed to their electorate. He also courted in public Paquino, obtaining his informal support. In the end, he was able to muster enough support to win with a striking 65 percent against 35 for his opponent, Lettieri.

De Magistris ran on a law and order platform, combined with proposals for re-launching Naples as a major European capital, ridding it of garbage and creating the premises for major investments. His electorate includes citizens of the whole political spectrum ranging from the far left to conservatives concerned with ramping insecurity and disorder. De Magistris will be able to count on a very solid majority in City Hall where at least 32 council members out of 48 will support his program, and another 4 will be neutral. The center right opposition will be able to count on only 12 votes.

Now de Magistris will need to immediately deliver on his promise to rid the city of garbage and to implement modern waste collection and disposal systems in line with the high environmental standards that he and his coalition have advocated during the election campaign.

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Filed under Elections, Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples, Political parties

Italian minister defines Naples and the south as a cancer

Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation

Anthony M. Quattrone

The debate is continuing in Naples regarding the statements made by Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation, in an interview published by “Il Giornale” on 11 September 2010.  Brunetta stated that “if we did not have Calabria and the general metropolitan area of Naples-Caserta, or, better, if these areas had the same standards as the rest of the Nation, Italy would be the first in Europe.  The Naples-Caserta area is a social and cultural cancer.  It is an ethical cancer, where the State is not present, where there is no politics, where there is no society”.

There were many reactions to Brunetta’s statements from the Neapolitan intelligentsia.  Dozens of articles have appeared in the press and a very lively debate has taken place on the Internet, with hundreds of comments on Facebook and in the local blogs.

The bishop emeritus of Acerra, a town 20 kilometers northeast of Naples, Antonio Riboldi, stated that “Brunetta should be less reckless when expressing his opinions.  Blustering is not needed — it is necessary to know what one is talking about.  He needs to be more balanced when expressing his views.  Poverty in the South is not the fault of the people of the South, but it is due to the lack of investments, the lack of employment.”

Stefano Caldoro, president of the Campania Region and a member of  Brunetta’s political party, reacted to the minister’s comments stating that “he is wrong when he speaks only of the disease, without indicating the therapy to cure it. Campania and the south are ready to rise again, but they seek a type of federalism without tricks”.   According to Caldoro, “Brunetta, as a professor and economist, has formulated a correct diagnosis, which takes into consideration a set of irrefutable economic data.  In his role as minister, however, he makes a mistake because it is the responsibility of leaders to provide solutions to the problem.  Otherwise, his analysis is insufficient and dangerous, because it lends itself to support the belief that nothing can be done to change the status quo.”

Umberto Ranieri, member of the Democratic Party and a potential candidate for mayor of Naples in the elections that will take place next spring, is critical of Brunetta’s style, but, with respect to the content, he appeared to accept the criticism, stating that the “leadership of the south should perform self-criticism.”  In the past, leftist commentators, such as Giorgio Bocca, and politicians, such as Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party, had also expressed concerns regarding the ethics of the southern leadership.

The representatives of various Southern movements have also reacted to Brunetta’s statements. Read the whole article

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Southerners protest against racist museum in Turin

The Lombroso Museum in Turin is targeted for racism by southern Italians

Demonstration against the Lombroso Museum in Turin on 8 May 2010 (Photo La Stampa)

Anthony M. Quattrone

As Italy prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification, there are many in Naples and in the south of the nation who believe that there is not much to celebrate.  Their feeling is that the south was the loser in the process to unify Italy, because it lost its freedom and its relative wealth.  They sustain that in 1860 the south was way ahead of the north in terms of industry, education, science, art, and standards of living, and that independent Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, whose capital was Naples, was condemned to be dissolved as a result of a conspiracy led by Great Britain and other contemporary big powers 150 years ago.

On 11 May 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and about 1,000 followers invaded Sicily and made their way up the boot, defeating the Neapolitan army, and handing the rich southern kingdom to an indebted and impoverished French-speaking king, Emanuel II of the House of Savoy.  By 13 February 1861, when Gaeta fell, King Francis II went into exile as a guest of the Pope in Rome, and on 19 March 1861, the last Borbonic bastion, in Civitella del Tronto, fell, and all of the soldiers who surrendered were executed by their Italian “brothers”.

Several cultural organizations and political action committees from the south have taken steps to respond to official commemorations by scheduling peaceful, non violent counter celebrations.  The Civil Insurgent Movement, the Neoborbonic Cultural Association,  Party of the South, and For the South are among the most active in pursuing an organized timetable of demonstrations, which, in many cases, will coincide with the official celebrations organized by the Central Government.

The first demonstration took place on 8 May 2010 in Turin, when several hundred participants gathered in front of the Lombroso Museum to protest against the exhibition of dozens of skulls of southern patriots, who are known as Brigands in “official” history books.  Cesare Lombroso was an Italian social scientist who, at the end of the 1800s, founded the Italian school of positivist criminology, whereby he theorized that criminals could be identified by physical defects.  He is particularly detested by southern Italians due to his definition of an inferior Southern Italian type race which he opposed to the Northern Italian one, based on measurements he made of the skulls of dead southern patriots and common criminals whose remains the soldiers from the invading Piedmont took back to Turin. Read the whole article

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Campania votes on 28 and 29 March 2010

Antonio Bassolino, outgoing president of the Campania Region (photo from the official Campania Region website)

Anthony M. Quattrone

On 28 and 29 March 2010, approximately 5 million citizens of the Campania Region will be eligible to vote to select the new president of the region and to renew the Regional Council.  Campania is the second most-populous region of Italy with a population of around 5.7 million. It is also the most densely populated region in the country.

The outgoing president of the region is Antonio Bassolino, a former member of the Italian Communist Party and one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party.  Bassolino was a very successful mayor of Naples, serving two terms from 1994 to 1998.  His successful first term was rewarded at the polls in 1997, when he won 72.9% of the vote.  In 1998, he resigned his post as mayor to become minister of labor and social security in the government of Massimo D’Alema.  After the assassination of his close advisor, Massimo D’Antona, in 1999, by the leftist terrorists, Bassolino resigned his post as minister and returned to Naples to compete for the post of President of the Campania Region.  He was elected to the post in 2000, with 54.3% of the vote.  He was re-elected in 2005 with 61.6% of the vote.  Bassolino’s last term in office has been marred by numerous scandals involving the role of consultants and by the inability of the Region to manage the garbage crises that hit Naples and the whole of the Campania Region several times during his second term as president.

A center left coalition also holds the majority of the seats in the outgoing regional council, which is composed of 60 members.  The outgoing president of the Regional Council, Sandra Lonardo, is in a very interesting, albeit, contradictory position.  She is the wife of the former center-left minister of Justice, Clemente Mastella, who resigned his post in the government led by Romano Prodi on 16 January 2008, after that his wife was placed under house arrest as a consequence of her indictment for corruption.  Mastella’s resignation, and the subsequent withdrawal of his party, the UDEUR, from the center-left coalition, caused the fall of the Prodi government, and the decision by the President of the Republic to call for new national elections, which brought the center right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, back to power.  Today, Clemente Mastella is a member of the European Parliament, representing Berlusconi’s Pdl Parly, while his wife, Sandra Lonardo, is still a member of the center left formation in the outgoing Regional Council, but she is running with Berlusconi’s center right coalition, supporting Stefano Caldoro for president of the Region.  The UDEUR, led by Mastella and Lonardo, is quite popular in Benevento and the surrounding areas, and might very well determine the outcome of the elections in Campania.

The two main candidates for the position of President of the Campania region are Stefano Caldoro for the center right coalition led by Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (Pdl) party, and Vincenzo De Luca for the center left coalition, led by two major parties, the Democratic Party (Pd) and the Italia dei Valori (Idv – Italy of Values).  According to a poll conducted by SWG on behalf of the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, the race is too close to call for the position of President, but the center right parties are in the lead of over 12 points for obtaining the majority of seats in the Council.  The election rules allow citizens to vote separately for the Council and for the president.

The center left candidate, De Luca, who is the current mayor of the city of Salerno, is also well liked by centrist and conservative voters for the very tough stand on crime and illegal immigration that he has taken in the city of Salerno.  For this reason, De Luca is often referred to as the “sheriff”.  De Luca is also credited by voters from the left and the right for having taken a very critical stand of his party colleague, Antonio Bassolino, opposing the former’s candidate for the election to mayor of Salerno in 2006. De Luca beat the official candidates of the center right and center left coalitions by running as an independent.

The center right candidate, Stefano Caldoro, a former member of the Italian Socialist Pary, has held the post of under secretary, vice minister, and minister in two Berlusconi governments over the past decade, but he has no specific administrative experience either at the city or regional level. He is currently a member of parliament, where he has been elected to the House in 2008 with the Pdl party.

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Garbage crisis and organized crime

Anthony M. Quattrone

Garbage in Pozzuoli, January 2008. Photo by Anthony M. Quattrone.

The connection between Neapolitan organized crime, known as “camorra” and politicians in Naples and other cities in the Campania Region has been at the center of the political debate over the past years.  The debate has become more passionate following the request made by a public prosecutor to arrest politician Nicola Cosentino.  Earlier this week, the Office of the Public Prosecutor sent to the Chamber of Deputies a request to arrest Cosentino, who is an undersecretary of the ministry of the economy of the Berlusconi government and a Member of Parliament.  Cosentino cannot be arrested without the consent of the Chamber of Deputies.  He is accused of providing outside support to the illegal activities of the camorra in relation to the collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage in the Campania Region.  The camorra-politicians-garbage disposal paradigm has come to the attention of magistrates over the course of the past fifteen years, but no major politician has ever been arrested.

The garbage disposal crisis and its link to organized crime has been officially recognized by the Italian state for the past fifteen years.  On 11 February 1994, the Italian government, headed by Arzeglio Ciampi, declared a state of emergency in Naples and nominated a commissioner with special powers to deal with the disposal of garbage.  Since then, eleven commissioners have been nominated by different national and regional governments, which, in the meantime, have alternated between center left and center right majorities.  The head of the civil protection, two prefects, and two presidents of the Campania region, one from the center right, Antonio Rastrelli, and one from the center left, Antonio Bassolino, took turns as commissioners.  In the end, by the spring of 2008, the Naples garbage crisis hit the international media, placing Naples on the front pages of virtually every major newspaper in the world.  The images of Naples covered with tons of garbage eventually led to millions of euro in missed income, especially in the tourism industry.

The camorra was able to become central in the garbage disposal system by controlling the dumping grounds, and by infiltrating the garbage collection and hauling system.  The role of the commissioner was intended to oppose the power of the camorra in the collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage.  The commissioner was given special powers by the central government in Rome, to include the authorization to award contracts, without competition, to face an emergency.

The camorra had infiltrated the garbage disposal system by digging and managing illegal dumps.  As older dumps used by the city filled up, the camorra was able to direct the dumping towards its own grounds, allegedly controlling also the companies contracted to transport the collected garbage to the dumps.  Organized crime had the will and the power to create dumps virtually in any location of the Region where power shovels and other mechanical gear could operate.

Several prosecutors in Naples have been investigating the link between construction companies allegedly belonging to organized crime and local politicians.  The magistrates are focusing their attention on those contracts that allegedly have been awarded to companies controlled by organized crime.  These camorra-run companies have been able to underbid competitors because they are able to contain costs by using illegal dumping grounds.  Organized crime is also accused of managing the illegal transportation and disposal of toxic and dangerous waste produced in northern Italy and illegally dumped in Campania.  According to a local regional environmental agency, there are dozens of illegal dumps in Campania, and many contain toxic waste, which is polluting water springs, agricultural lands, and pastures.  Studies are underway to determine the effects of the toxic waste on the health of the population living in the proximity of the illegal dumps.

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