Naples business center, the two faces: during the day sports and aperitifs, in the evening neglect and decay

“I thought worse, it’s not bad at all”, shouts Nanni Moretti on his Vespa when, in the film “Caro diario”, after crossing the whole of Rome, he arrives in Spinaceto, a neighborhood “always included in speeches to speak ill of it”. Let’s see Spinaceto, he says. And he gets there, up to a wall where a boy is sitting and confirms: “but actually it’s not bad at all.” It comes to mind when you enter Business center around. 6:00 p.m., when most offices close, workers flock to the underground parking lots or the bustling streets of the other Naples, the one that radiates toward the main train station, and you expect a desert evacuated from Downtown, an abandoned American city in the dust after an alarm, while you instead find yourself in a great square of light and wind, where even the smell of the sea arrives, shaded and protected by skyscrapers, full of boys who devour that space with the greed and energy that their age demands, and that which in everything else around is always compressed, kept under vacuum. There are no cars here, not even the inevitable mopeds. Or if they do appear, they are rare and move slowly, as if intimidated by the enormity. There are wide, very long avenues: so many joggers there and trot sweatily around the skyscrapers. Others walk dogs on leashes, elders take advantage of the shade and eddies raised between the buildings to build cooling currents that break the heat, mothers release children who are never out of sight, some of these totter on ice skates while the elderly use electricity -scooters, as very little is done in the rest of the city.


At the F3 island, starting from the entrance to via Bari, just in front of the large extinguished fountain, there is on the corner Bar Franco, which remains open into the evening, and groups of mothers gather around it to talk, sit on the stone edges of the flower beds along Viale della Costituzione while their children play, and very young girls instead sit at the tables, some couples drinking a Spritz. It’s not glamorous, but it’s at the same time so big that it’s calming and so collected that it disappears. «We come from Vasto – says a group of four teenagers – we spend the whole afternoon there. It feels good here. We are calm. Danger? No, maybe more when it gets dark. But that everywhere’. If you continue along the large avenue and turn left, you will come to the clearing of the Justice Palace. Here the gathered young people are many and divided into three groups: the first plays table football in front of another bar that is open until late. There are about twenty of them, and their cackles slide against the glass walls of the skyscrapers and do not seem to make a sound. In front of the entrance door to the Court there are instead twenty more young people playing with skates. They have placed iron obstacles, brought to the center of the square, and perform shin-splitting acrobatics on their led boards, like in American movies. It is a beautiful, clean, brave but strict people: multiracial, there are blacks, Chinese, Indians, Neapolitans, and they all speak the same language, which consists of few words and a lot of slang, many lines; among them a lone girl, with torn jeans, who spins her skate on an iron pole to the applause of the others. The third group is on a corner of the square. There are at least thirty of them, all very young. They took two green glass recycling bins and made soccer goals for us. They take their positions in coordinated T-shirts and get ready for their match, while the girls sitting on the flower beds not far away chatter and watch them. At least a hundred very young people aged 14 to 17 who in the afternoon in total spontaneity populate and organize, with discipline and play, a space that holds them all as easily as a pair of pants two sizes more.

“Mostly there are offices here – says a guard from it Jesus, the company that deals with security -, from eighteen the avenues are empty, many shops close. But then the rooms are occupied by children and families. It is a quiet situation; security issues? There is something every now and then. We have arrested some car thieves ourselves, but roughly the same as in the rest of Naples’. “This is a great agora of relationships – he reflects Alessandro Gallo, municipal councilor, chairman of the Civic Committee Centro Direzionale, who walks the avenues under the house where he has lived for years – was conceived by Kenzo Tange. The business center is a work of art, the flooring is valuable, it is not a roadway. It is not suitable for vehicles, it is designed for pedestrians, for ordinary life. The potential in this area is still enormous and intact ».

But it’s not all roses. Yes, the roses are not there at all. If you leave the great avenues and venture into the narrowest spaces, if you are distracted from the incredible desire of the young to be together in freedom and walk and look along the joints of the buildings, here too you will find the inevitable purulence of the open wound . The public green, for example, totally burnt by the sun and neglect. The floor is torn, uneven, the holes. The dirt: bottle blankets, trash, garbage lying in the corners. And then the shame of the passages between upstairs and downstairs: the abandoned and broken escalators, closed and rusted doors, crumbling walls, holes with holes from which fetid water flows, ravines where household items are deposited that become desolate havens for prostitution, especially men , with young immigrants waiting on male clients. And then a stream of closed shutters, of stores that never opened or failed. «The business center was conceived as a circular economy – still reflects Alessandro Gallo -; in the enormous basement there are 4 thousand parking spaces. From there, the financial resources had to be drawn for the maintenance of the above part. Instead, the income from the parking spaces managed by the municipality’s subsidiaries ends up in their budgets, and almost nothing is spent on maintenance of the centre”. «I feel that here – an elderly gentleman named Giulio joins, who lives in one of the buildings of the social institutions close to the towers – one of the problems was the lack of housing. It is clear that they do not know the business center: there are over a thousand apartments for at least 3 thousand residents. It’s not cheap. Along with the whole office movement, this is a small town that would require some protecting and protecting, even for how it is structured. We are on an island, it could be happy for a little ». The Rosary of Contradiction also rattles the painful mysteries of the Naples we know. As usual, they are called: urban decay, significant disservices, neglect of common spaces, lack of maintenance. Scenes that could also be shot on a thousand other streets in the city. Here, however, there is an additional bitterness: this modernity, this space, this light, this whole future, adopted in such a spontaneous way by young people, could have been so much with a little more, but we did not believe in it enough. Still, it is enough to take a walk, enter it, arrive at a surrounding wall, raise your eyes, look carefully around to say like Nanni Moretti in Spinaceto: but this business center is not bad at all.

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