Statistiche - Around Naples

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Naples Miscellany 20 (mid-May, 2011)
by Jeff Matthews
Bagnoli and the Ruhr. In 2013 the Overseas Fair Grounds (Mostra d'Oltremare) in Fuorigrotta will host something called the "Culture Forum." One of the themes will be the ongoing process of converting the blight of post-industrialism—all the closed and rusted factories, decayed waterfronts, etc.—into pleasant bits of suburbia, places of parks, shops, schools and homes where people will want to live and tourists visit. One of the most successful efforts in Europe has been the Ruhr region in North Rhine-Westphalia in east- central Germany. It is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe and at one time one of the most heavily industrialized. Over the last few decades, "post-industrialization" has taken place, and the Ruhr now has theaters, cultural centers, festivals and museums (including what are now called "industrial museums"). As a run-up to the Culture Forum, a gentleman from the Ruhr, Hans-Dietrich Schmidt, was in Naples earlier this month to explain the "Ruhr model" to local officials and business persons who would like to use that model for the further development of Bagnoli, once site of the Italsider steel works. Bagnoli has had some successes: a new theater, the North Pier, a hands-on science museum and exposition ground called Science City, a "Turtle Point" extension of the Dohrn Aquarium, a Maritime Museum, etc. There have been failures as well, such as the failure to lure the America's Cup regatta to Bagnoli a few years ago, which would have meant money for the construction of a suitable harbor facility. Some things are still up in the air, such as a proposed Bagnoli Green Park and an industrial museum. I gather from various sources that Herr Schmidt's presentation was a pretty solid pep-talk. You need two things: money and political will. One of those items alone won't do the trick. Both might.

The Capodimonte Royal Wood is in the midst of a grand restoration project, according to Guido Gullo, director of the grounds. When the palace and grounds at Capodimonte were originally laid out and built in the 1700s, farmland was converted into a vast hunting reserve for the royal family. The gardens and orchards within the reserve became the source of highly sought-after fruits and other produce. The current plan is to restore 26,000 sq. meters (c. 6.5 acres) to its original agricultural and horticultural use as well as to make the area suitable for tourism.

The island of Ischia reports that it is expecting a 100% increase in the number of those gigantic cruise ships to dock at the island during the season just underway. Last season, nine docked at Ischia; this season there will be 18. "Gigantic" usually means that they are too big to move into such harbors as Ischia, Capri, and Sorrento. In terms of size and capacity, they are comparable to modern aircraft carriers. They anchor off shore and send the consumer zombies ashore in smaller craft.

The Goodyear blimp was over Salerno a short time ago on its way to Reggio Calabria as part of a Goodyear publicity campaign to hype safe driving on the roads of Italy. The phrase "Safety together" was emblazoned on the side of the craft beneath the familiar Goodyear logo of the winged sandal. Those driving on the autostrada saw this thing overhead, took both hands off the wheel, rolled down the windows, looked out, pointed up and shouted, "Hey! The Good year blimp is advertising driving safety!" Though the paper said the Goodyear blimp, I imagine the craft is simply "a"—i.e., one of those that Goodyear has purchased from ABC (American Blimp Corporation), two of which are stationed in Europe: The Spirit of Europe I and The Spirit of Europe II.

Hydrofoil service from the small port of Mergellina to Capri, Ischia and elsewhere was suspended earlier this year. I have not heard a single opinion that it was a good idea to drop that service. The port is well served by the nearby Mergellina train station; whether you were a visitor to Naples or a local from almost anywhere in the area, Mergellina was the most convenient place to embark for the islands. The small port was clean, well-managed and easy to get to—and you avoided the grime and chaos of Molo Beverello at the main port of Naples a mile to the east. Now, all hydrofoil service is from Beverello. Just getting to the main port is a pain in the neck. (The adjacent Piazza Municipio and portside roads are still torn up for Metro construction and will remain so for another few years. You'll probably take a cab. Cabbies may be the only ones who approve of the whole idea.) Local comment also points out that tourists are not the only people who go to the islands; there is significant movement of Neapolitans and even residents of the islands, who were served by a convenient port in the western section of Naples. It is also a grind to come into the main port and then get anywhere else. If you want to go west (left, coming out of the port), say, to get to the Mergellina, Chiaia or Posillipo parts of Naples, you have to turn east (right) and go halfway to Sicily before the cock-eyed one-way streets let you turn around and go back. No matter how you slice it, you are stuck with the main port of Naples, and it is a mess.

photo: The former premises of the steel-mill in Bagnoli now awaiting further urban development.