Scampia beyond Scampia

A story of hope beyond stereotypes

Scampia. Place of degradation and camorra. My curiosity was born by looking at Gomorra, the TV series that shows this unique aspect; to this is added the fascination of a desolate place like the sails, which are the symbol of the neighborhood. The desire to visit them was strong and I wanted to understand something more than a distant reality for me. So I met Daniele Sanzone, founding member of Scampia Trip Tour: a journey into the places, stories and beauty of those who every day (r)exist to the ugliness of the suburbs and the Camorra. Daniele, a writer and musician, was born and raised in the neighborhood: «The word tour is misleading because it is a ride inside the stories and out of stereotypes, we try to tell the complexity of the neighborhood. Beauty is certainly not a customary beauty, it is a beauty made of people, of resistance, of narration ». I reach Scampia by underground. The station is renovated, embellished with reproductions of works by Felice Pignataro and is part of the art stops of the Naples metro. On leaving the station are the murals made by street artist Agor Jorit. The Sails. They are part of the housing project for the creation of social housing. In addition to the apartments, meeting places were planned. Unfortunately, however, only seven sails are built. Two buildings, separated by a central void, parallel to each other, joined by walkways suspended at half height with respect to the dwellings. However, due to a series of design errors, these walkways become dark and unhealthy. Overcrowding transforms the arcades into makeshift dwellings. The apartments are damp: the light does not filter in the rooms that overlook the interior, the pipes are in very bad condition and there are no elevators. The state forgets Scampia until 1987, when the first police station was established. All these errors transform the sails from a housing utopia, inspired by Le Corbusier, in a place of drug dealing and Camorra. Between 1997 and 2003, 3 of the 7 sails were demolished. These structures, inhabited by the latter, have become the symbol of misery and abandonment, not only of Scampia, but of the suburbs, understood as hopeless neighborhoods.       I The garden of the five continents and of non-violence. Built on the ashes of six landfills, this place has been reborn thanks to the volunteers of Rete Pangea, whose mission is a process of education to non-violence. The 130 meter long mural is significant, with the faces of people who have distinguished themselves in the fight against violence.The meeting with Mirella La Magna. Mirella is the wife of Felice Pignataro – whose murals become the voice of those who have no voice -, founder of the social center Gridas – awakening from sleep Group with reference to the work by Francisco Goya, The sleep of reason generates monsters. Scampia’s historical memory, she is a woman full of energy. Thanks to her story, it is possible to understand how Scampia has become Scampia. The state, after the feuds, intervenes with the repression that “was useful – explains Mirella – but alone is not enough. We need study and work, an alternative. The study does not assure you a job, but at least it teaches you where not to look for it “. When education is lacking, you do not voluntarily choose to end up in the drug dealing: there is simply nothing else. Lawlessness becomes part of people’s mentality. Meanwhile, the “Gelsomina Verde” Workshop of Cultures is created. The institution, center of associations, library and recovery laboratory for ex-prisoners, is dedicated to an innocent victim of the Camorra, killed at the age of 22 for a brief relationship with a Camorra man. Another place of hope is Chikù, an Italian-Balkan restaurant on the top floor of the Scampia Auditorium and home of the “Chi rom e … chi no” association, born from the relations between the Roma community and the Italian one in Scampia. The restaurant overlooks the city park, the huge park in the neighborhood.Another Scampia. Daniele Sanzone explains that choosing between right and wrong is not easy here. When there are no alternatives and the only possible job is illegal can we talk about choice? Telling about the feud between clans, he explains how the news simply simplifies making a count of the dead, and that one never talks about the “dead killed in hopes”. Daniele is more than a guide: he lives here, he had the courage to make a different choice. The most difficult: to reject the flattery of the Camorra, and not just to be an honest person but to denounce, to tell that Scampia is not only ugliness, periphery and degradation, but that this huge neighborhood is also something else.