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Posts tagged ‘Naples’

No detail too small: the intricate spectacle of a Neapolitan Nativity

In a large number of countries the Nativity scene (Belem in Spain, Presepe in Italy) is as big a part of the Christmas festivities as the lights switch-on in London’s Oxford Street or the Christmas tree at the centre of a family home. Having gone to Catholic school as a boy, I still remember the prominence with which the Nativity set was placed in the front entrance, and how perplexed I was (and remain) that the teachers remained insistent that the Jesus figure should not be placed in the manger until Christmas Day: but this is a school I thought – who on earth is going to see it during the holidays?

Despite the fact that the tradition of setting out a nativity is centuries old in many a catholic country, the general belief is that it all began in Italy where St Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy. There he is said to have recreated the birth of Christ through placing people dressed in the various nativity roles in a cave. A tradition was born, and perhaps for this reason, it is arguable that Italy has remained the predominant master of the nativity craft. This is not least in Naples where, in the famous Via San Gregorio Armeno, the entire street is given over to the craftsmen who make every intricate detail of the characters and setting of the Neapolitan presepe. 

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While last Christmas I braved the crowds who had crammed their way up the dark side streets of the Spaccanapoli to get a view of this famous Neapolitan craft, this year I have had the fortune to see their masterpieces at far closer a proximity. For here in Palma de Mallorca, but 2 minutes from my flat in an inconspicuous church on the Carrer de San Miquel, there is a Neapolitan gem of its own. Set out across a mountain plane simulated from the supple bark of a cork tree, and comprising a phenomenal range of architectural features and carefully characterised figures, this Nativity demonstrates why the Neapolitan craft remains so renowned. Not a single detail of street life has been missed, from the slimy pig’s head sold by the Butcher, to the bag of eggs swung by the old housewife. What tickles me are the gruesome details of their lined faces, and their masterful expressions – so full of personality you’d swear they were alive. 

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In fact Palma de Mallorca holds the nativity or Belem dear to its heart, with a trail tracing once fantastic Belem to another across the city. But few could deny that the real brilliance of Belem craft has been mastered by the Neapolitans, as the nativity photos above demonstrate so well. 

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. 

Positano & beyond | Capri: Part 2 – Geology, Geraniums and a Granita de Limon

There is no denying the unique pull of ritzy glitzy preened and perfected Capri Town, the bustling micro-sized centre of the stunning Neapolitan island of Capri. But beyond the Dolce and Gabbana, the YSL and the Chanel is an island whose real gleaming star is its jaw-droppingly beautiful natural scenery. Capri’s unique landscape is owed solely to its vast mountainous geology. Capri Town for example is a good 20 minute hike up steep stairways that climb one of the island’s two main mountainous peaks and which leave very little room at sea level for a capital town. And it’s because of this wonderful craggy mountain geology that the island is characterised by a series of stunning natural phenomena – the blue lagoon, the Arco Naturale, and the rocks that jut out to sea like characters from mythology. 

No sooner had we finished our lunch in Capri Town, we bumped into this breathtaking beauty, for mere metres out of the town’s quickly dissipating urbanisation, you are led out into verdant bucolic lanes which simply take your breath away. Of course today much of these areas are overtaken with luxury hotels, but even those maintain huge lush gardens, and the result is an island bursting with almost tropical greenery and the vibrant pinks of abundant bourganvilla. 

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However to see flowers at their best and some of the most amazing views of the island, we headed to the Giardini di Augusto, a small shady set of manicured gardens once owned by German steel industrialist Friedrich Krupp, but begrudgingly given up when he was forced to leave the island in shame after his romantic liasons with local fishermen came to light! Today the gardens are given over to the pleasure of tourists and locals alike, and what pleasure they provide. But the most dazzling aspect of these gardens was not what could be found within, but seen from their periphery. Views so stunning of the turquoise waters and rocky outcrops jutting out to sea below that only photos can really tell of their true beauty…

In the garden…

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and the views from within…

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From one paradise to another, we headed over to the other side of Capri Town, embarking on a walk which at times seemed mad in the searing heat of day, but which was happily broken with a welcome lemon granita enjoyed over lavish sea views, and made all the more worth it by the final destination: the Arco Naturale. I’ve seen some views in my time but this was just something else. A huge rocky arch jutting out to see forming a window onto a little glittering bay below. This huge mass of limestone rock looked to be teetering on a knife edge – at its thinnest point, large cracks could already be seen and it became clear that this natural phenomenon cannot last forever. But this transience made the sight all the more beautiful and we sat and admired it for what seemed like hours. 

The Arco Naturale and taking a rest beside the view

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Of course there were so many other stunning views seen on our day in Capri, although we barely saw a quarter of the island on our short visit. All too soon the last boat back to Positano was calling, but surely a future visit to Capri will be required. After all, the best things in life are always worth the wait. 

Capri fades off into the distance as we head back to Positano

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Positano & beyond | Capri: Part 1 – People, Prices, Paradise

It was of course long ago that I heard of the seductive allure of super-chic Capri, rocky Island paradise beloved of celebrities, royals and couturiers alike. The island, which is just off the Sorrento Peninsula in Italy, was first the beloved of Emperor Tiberius himself, who spent much of his reign luxuriating on the island, and since it has been home to some of the worlds most famous creatives, from John Singer Sargent to DH Lawrence. Of course alongside its innate popularity is also a reputation laced with tales of pompous overpriced fashion boutiques, snobby restaurants and not for the feint hearted lavishly expensive hotels. This reputation both repelled and entranced me, and while I was always procrastinating over whether or not to go, my decision was made up when I watched the delightful 1960s film, It Started in Naples. Starting Sophia Loren and Clark Gable, the film is a tribute to the stunning beauty of its island backdrop, as Capri is made just as much of a star of the film as Loren and Gable themselves. Although itself alluding to Capri’s over popularity amongst tourists, and the capitulation of the island to its predominantly American visitors (the satirical song Tu vuò fa l’americano is performed by Loren in the film), this 60s masterpiece made multiple promises of Capri’s geographical and social allure, and I knew I had to go there. 

So keeping Positano on the Amalfi coast as our base (this avoiding at least the expense of Capri hotels) we set off on the morning high speed jet to the island and in under 45 minutes found ourselves approaching a jagged mountainous island so geographically surprising that it looked like an upturned knife searing out of the sea. There in the old harbour were the eye wateringly large luxury yachts (even our jet had cost is a cool €70 for the journey) although happily the scattering of colourful old fishing boats meant this port retained much of its Italian charm. 

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But the real charm was reserved for Capri town, a 20 minute hot uphill walk (or a more leisurely funicular ride for those who can be bothered to brave the long queue of tourists, and the price). Everything up in the town was like a pristine city in miniature. A half sized campanile with a charming yellow and blue ceramic face, little twisting streets containing small boutiques of the worlds most recognisable names: Gucci, D&G, Valentino, Prada, Versace, and at the centre of it all, a bustling central square, not even an 8th of the size of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor or London’s Leicester Square, but bustling and crammed with 4 or 5 cafes spread out over the whole area. Of course we headed straight to one such cafe – second Capri price shock: €17 for two glasses of house wine. Gulp. 

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There, sat in the Piazzetta (as it’s known), in the shadow of the white-washed Santo Stefano, one could really feel the essence of Capri. The square evoked the glamour that makes Capri so unique, fizzing with gossip and preening glitterati; waiters with their noses slightly upturned, regulars sat at the best cafe tables, their carefully coiffed dogs curled up beneath them, shiny boutique-bought handbags reflecting the sunlight, and the ice of morning cocktails glinting in the sun. Yes this was surely the reputed Capri – the very pinnacle of Paris couture in the tiniest cluster of toy-sized civilisation.

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Feeling all the merrier for the wine, ignoring its hefty price, we wandered onwards, out of the square and into the town’s little streets which became ever more quaint and charming as one led to another. Our only attempt at shopping was thwarted by the sight of the price tag of a rather ordinary looking pair of sunglasses: a snitch at €1500. Happily, a sumptuous sun-dappled lunch in the cool gardens of the Hotel La Palma was easier on the wallet and even more so on the stomach. This left us well nourished (if a little tipsy) to explore the rest of Capri. Oh and what wonders were to come.

Read more about those in Part 2.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

New Woodcut: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples

Introducing my new (and second) woodcut print: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia. Like my first woodcut completed earlier this year, my second is inspired by the incredible Christmas trip I took with my partner across Italy, from Venice, to Rome and ending up finally in Naples. 

This woodcut was inspired by our first morning in Naples when, with the sun shining a surprisingly summery warmth upon us, we headed down to the city’s Mediterranean port and were bowled over. Of course we’ve all heard of Naples’ bigger industrial port, but just around the coast, in front of the upmarket Santa Lucia region and around the Castel dell’Ovo is a beautiful little marina full of all of the shiny white yachts, fishing boats and other marine paraphernalia you would expect. 

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

I was unsurprisingly obsessed by the water there and all of the brightly coloured ripples reflected from the boats and the harbour walls. This woodcut is an attempt to capture them. It’s a multi-plate print which means that a number of plates are cut and combined to introduce different colours into the print. Below are shots showing a print of each coloured plate individually, which combined together really bring the work to life. You can also see the plates set out alongside the inks and rollers in the printmaking studio, as well as a series of prints hanging up to dry – editioning is tiring stuff!

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This is now my second woodcut and my seventh print since I started printmaking last Spring. I can say without hesitation that I now consider myself to be as enthusiastic a printmaker as a painter and I can’t wait to make more! 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

Bianco Nero – Italy in a Vintage Light

As an artist who loves colour, who believes dulling down the vibrancy of paint straight from the tube is a kind of sacrilege, I am incredibly drawn to the power and atmosphere of black and white. It’s always surprised me that in the process of draining all of the colour out of an image leaving only tone and light and shadow behind, all of the emotional charge of the image is somehow more focused, almost as though the absence of colour leaves room for passion to breathe.

And it’s not just photos either. Black and white films hold an endless fascination for me, and once you’ve watched a few, you become so charmed by their subtle nuanced light that the next colour film you watch seems all too jarring and unauthentic. It’s like a calendar I recently saw in Rome of Audrey Hepburn’s famous debut Roman Holiday. On one page were beautiful black and white stills from the film we all know and love so well; on the next coloured up versions, which looked so Disney and brash by comparison. And then of course there’s Picasso’s Guernica – one of the most powerful paintings in all of the history of art – despite being painted exclusively in tones of grey.

While it’s tempting to think that the appeal of black and white photography harps back to a vintage age, when life was elegant and free from the trappings of modern life, a theory easily justified by photography heroes such as Doisneau and Brassai who so perfectly captured Paris in black and white in the inter-war years, in fact, as this post attempts to show, black and white can be just as atmospheric even when adapted to the modern age.

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After weeks recollecting my recent trip to Italy, my final hurrah is a post which explores the medium of black and white photography (along with a few sepia examples thrown in to boot) with Italy and its people as a willing model. Of course it’s easy in the digital age to convert a standard colour photograph to black and white and back again, but as these shots hopefully demonstrate, the transformation is far from just the colour.

Moody, evocative, almost caught in a time vacuum, these shots have taken on a character all of their own just for being distilled in monochrome. Without the blue of the Venetian water, a ripple takes on an abstract, mysterious form; with the colour gone from their faces, random passers by in Roman squares look like actors from a golden age film; and in Naples, the shadow of an old woman in the sunlight is, in black and white, like a menacing character straight out of Victorian fiction. Now that truly is the power of black and white.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Vintage Italy – advertisements from a golden age

Many may have empathised with the characters Gil and Adriana in Woody Allen’s 2011 film, Midnight in Paris, who were accused of having suffering from “golden-age nostalgia” – the condition whereby a person believes that a previous era was better than the present. In a way, the purpose of the film was to disprove this way of thinking, since Gil’s obsession with the 1920s led him to meet Adriana who was from the 1920s but who herself thought the golden age was the Belle Epoque, who in turn met the likes of Degas and Manet in the Belle Epoque who in turn thought the golden age was the renaissance…and so it goes on. Which just goes to show that “the grass is always greener” applies to the past as well as a comparison of your own life with other possibilities.

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Despite this chord of warning which was espoused in Woody Allen’s film, I have to admit to suffering from a little golden-age nostalgia myself. Who could not pine after the elegance of evening dress in the 20s and before – the Downton Abbey style of dressing for dinner every evening and the top-hatted gentlemen in the Moulin Rouge? True, much of my nostalgia is probably founded in fiction – of course we all know that sanitary conditions and general quality of life was probably much lower then than we are used to now, especially for the poor. But nonetheless, the charm of past years cannot help but seep into my imagination, and fill my days with a warm sense of longing for a time of sophistication and innocence. And that charm is no more embodied than in the multi-coloured art work of vintage advertisements at the start of the great commercial age.

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I love old adverts. This passion is directly inherited from my father who collects enamel advertisement signs and various advertising paraphernalia. Sadly I have to make do with reproduction postcards and posters, but the images are no less pleasurable for the reproduction. And following on from my recent series of Italy posts, I thought I would share with you a few classic examples of the vintage advertising age promoting the very cities which I have just visited: Venice, Rome and Naples.

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With their bold lettering, romanticised skies, bright colours and simple motifs, it is completely understandable how these posters would have been effective in luring the pre or post-war era of awakening travellers to the charms of Italia. If only adverts today could exude such innate charisma. Oh no… there I go with my golden-age nostalgia again. I think I’d better leave you with the posters. Till next time…

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Natale Italiano | Naples – A photographic miscellany

You’d be forgiven for assuming from my recent posts of late that I am on something of a downer on Naples. Much has been said about the graffiti and the grime, the overflowing bins and the dodgy back streets. However let me dispel any illusion that I am anything but a fan of this city. Who could be otherwise? Exuding a loud passionate spirit like no other Italian city to the North, Naples is unapologetic in every way, from its robust flavours and shouting locals, to its busy seaside port and its unabashed hoarding of some of the most stunning artistic treasures of art history stretching back to ancient Rome and before.

Benefitting from its stunning Mediterranean location, just North of the idyllic Sorrento peninsula and nestled in a bay in front of the towering majestic presence of Vesuvius, Naples cannot help but exude beauty from every vantage point. But beyond the general geography of the region, Naples is a city which is full of eclectic contrasts, sensational architecture, and all of the small urban details which get my camera clicking faster than a hungry Neapolitan can finish off one of their tasty pizzas (which is fast).

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So in my last photographic miscellany of my extensive 5 week Italy blog season (well, I say last, but look out for the atmospheric black and white special coming up at the end of the week!) I explore all of the street details, the architectural peculiarities, and all of the beautiful and unique characteristics which make Naples the seductive city it is.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Natale Italiano | Naples – Day 2: Diamonds in the Rough

In nature as in life, some of the greatest contradictions can be found together. Inside a dull-looking pebble, the brightest of sparkling diamonds can be found; from a single block of hard marble cut out of the Carrara quarry, the magnificent muscular form of Michelangelo’s David emerged; and in the ugly hostile exterior of an oyster shell is born the beauty of the perfect pearl. In Naples, such contradictions are not hard to find. In the grim graffiti covered streets emerge beautiful palaces and stunning churches; in the foothills of the life-destroying Mount Vesuvius, agricultural production thrives in richly fertile soils; and in the dark and dirty alleyways of the Spaccanapoli, treasures of sublime artistic beauty wait in the shadows to be discovered.

It was to these treasures that we headed on our final day in both Naples, and Italy, unwilling to leave the city without our own experience of these infamous sights. The first was the Capella Sansevero, whose location down a tiny side street was made obvious by the queues of tourists forming round the corner and leading up to both its front door and, somewhat illogically, to the ticket office from where a ticket had to be purchased before you could then join the second queue into the main chapel. The queues were off-putting at first, and we almost gave up on this treasure, being as we were short of time before our flight home to London. But persevering in respect of both queues, we soon made our way, slowly but surely, into what has to be one of the most stunning baroque creations of Italian art history.

The Capella Sansevero

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Originating from 1590 but substantially embellished by Raimondo di Sangro, the Prince of Sansevero, it contains some 30 incredible works of art created by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century. A masterfully elaborate frescoed ceiling almost gets lost amongst the crowds of marble sculptures which fill every alcove and appear to metamorphose out of the altar, but the sculpture that really pulls in the crowds is “The Veiled Christ” by Giuseppe Sanmartino. Looking at this stunning depiction of the dead Christ covered with a shroud you are almost in denial that this masterpiece of deception can be marble, so fine are the features of the shroud which even show the scars sustained by Christ during his crucifixion beneath its apparently fine drapery.

Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ

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However for my money, the real star of the show, and too often overlooked in preference for the Veiled Christ, is Francesco Queirolo’s The Release from Deception (Disinganno) which shows a figure (some say it is Raimondo’s father) emerging from an intricate bundle of nets to look at a small angel who has appeared besides him. The netting is so incredibly intricate, with every knot and twist captured to perfection, that this sculpture has me entranced in absolute awe at its brilliance. How the sculptor managed to create this from a single block of marble, with all of those empty spaces cut out between the rungs of rope, I will never know. As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest masterpiece of sculpture ever to have been created in all the world. The visit to Naples was worth it for this alone.

Queirolo’s Disinganno

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and another masterpiece of the Capella, Antonio Corradini’s Veiled Truth (Pudicizia)

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But despite being deeply satisfied by our acquaintance with these works, a second collection of masterpieces awaited us – masterful not just because of their brilliant execution, but because of the time in which they were made, and the miracle of their survival. I am of course talking about the stunning collection of art and sculptures collected together in another of Naples’ artistic gems – the Archaeological Museum. A must for anyone who does not make it to Pompeii or wonders, if they have gone, what happened to all of the fine art which was originally excavated on the site, this museum is the home not only of treasures found in the Roman towns crushed by Vesuvius in AD 79, but also in other Roman excavations elsewhere in Italy. Number one of these incredible discoveries has to be the Farnese Bull – a group sculpture which is the largest single sculpture ever recovered from antiquity to date and thought to have been commissioned at the end of the 2nd Century BC and carved from a single block of marble.

Masterpieces of the Archeological museum

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This colossal marble sculptural group represents the myth of Dirce, wife of the King of Thebes, who was tied to a wild bull by the sons of Antiope as punishment for the ill treatment inflicted on her. It was unearthed in 1546 during excavations at the gymnasium of the Roman Baths of Caracalla and thereafter adorned the Farnese Palace in Rome, hence the nickname it has acquired having been restored by Michelangelo himself. The size and scale of this piece is as breathtaking as the detail of Quierolo’s Disinganno, and an appropriate finish to an enchanting tour of the treasures of Napoli.

The Farnese Bull

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Our trip to Naples ended, as all trips should, with a Neapolitan pizza and a bottle of Chianti. Thus it was, slightly tiddly, that we made our way back to the hotel, collected our baggage, and headed home to the UK; Home to London with bags stuffed full of Venetian masks, replicas of the Bucca della Verita, packets of Roman coffee and a couple of bottles Neapolitan limoncello – a manifestation in souvenirs of the most incredible Natale Italiano we could ever have hoped for.

Check out my final photo posts from the trip – coming later this week.

The Daily Norm’s Photo of the Week: Quartieri Spagnoli

In last week’s photography post focusing on the deteriorating face of the urban sprawl of Naples, I reflected, not without sadness, upon the degeneration of a city whose streets and houses were once the envy of the Mediterranean, but which today are the sad victim of reckless neglect and intentional vandalism. And in that post I also mused at the possible cause of this generalised decline – whether it be the possible inertia of a local government faced with the impossible scale of its urban problems, or the significant gap between rich and poor which continues to characterise the city today.

Yet while it is almost inevitably the poorer parts of the city which demonstrate the most obvious signs of neglect and deterioration, there can be no doubting that as a subject for photography, these areas are as captivating as the glossier hotel-packed areas of the city’s coastal facade. And this is no more so than in the Quartieri Spagnoli region of the city – a complete ramshackle hodge-bodge of homes and businesses crammed into tiny hilly streets. While tourists are urged to enter the area with caution, the braver amongst them may well be rewarded for their efforts by the interesting photos which result.

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While we did not venture very far into the area, I love this photo which I took of the Quartieri Spagnoli so much that I decided to give it a post all of its own. From the little basket of oranges in the immediate foreground and the differently shaped lamps and shop signs framing the scene from the right and left, to the profusion of laundry hanging out to dry and the wires which criss cross the street; this photo, which shows a typical street of the Quartieri Spagnoli, is a perfect representation of the tightly packed highly populated region, and the Napolese character which it exudes.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Natale Italiano | Naples – Photography Focus: Grime beneath the Gloss

Walking through the elegant marble floored glass and steel shopping arcade of the Galleria Umberto I, past the sweeping facade of the Palazzo Reale or along the hotel-lined coastal path , you’d be excused for thinking that Naples is a city as extravagantly wealthy and elegant as Vienna or London or Paris. But Naples is a tale of two cities; a metropolis of two very irreconcilable extremes of wealth and poverty.

And you don’t need to wander far from the Mediterranean facade to encounter the results of this cultural conflict. Tour guides are careful in warning tourists away from the tightly packed Quartieri Spagnoli district which sits bang in the centre of Naples, but is neverthelss renowned for cramped living conditions, narrow hilly streets and the poverty of its residents. Strung with laundry and dense with local shops and businesses, the area is among the most characterful of the city; but pretty scary, especially after  dusk. Meanwhile, even in the areas where tourism is encouraged and the masterpieces of the city are to be found in their multitudes such as the Spaccanapoli and the Decumano Maggiore, the streets and shops and doorways and houses are covered from head to toe with layer upon layer of ugly graffiti, while further up the facades, the distinct evidence of decay, even on the most palatial of residences, is plain to be seen.

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But beyond the extremes of rich versus poor, which has no doubt contributed to the miserable living conditions in which many Neapolitans live, Naples appears to be a city which has given up on itself, and lost control of its appearance, and perhaps also its pride. For me it felt like an instance in my own home – when a few things need cleaning up, I’m keen to do the job and have my home sparkling again. But when the dirt and mess mounts up, my energy fails me, and the situation only becomes worse as an inertia takes over any enthusiasm to clean up the mess. In Naples, the same kind of inertia appears to have crept in a long time ago. And it’s a shame – a real shame. For looking upwards in all of the areas mentioned above, you can see palaces and churches which more than rival the architectural gems of the cities further North in Italy, and yet those same beautiful buildings have been gradually covered in graffiti; their pavements covered with rubbish spilling from the bins; and the distinct smell of urine left to stagnate against their walls.

Even in the sunshine (when let’s face it, everywhere looks better), you cannot help but notice these defects which are gradually turning Naples into the kind of dump it does not deserve to be. I’m not sure what the answer is – after all, where would you begin in the mammoth clean-up operation required by this city? But I really hope that one day soon, the Italian government, if not the Naples one, sits up and recognises that in Naples’ decline, they are losing a real, historically important, artistically significant treasure.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.