Once upon a time there was Montecalvario area, that is 800 thousand square meters of misery and tangled alleys in the softest underbelly of Naples, narrow between the Vomero hill and the trade of the port. They have called them the Spanish Quarters, (Quartieri Spagnoli) since the ‘600, when they were used by Spanish soldiers. In ’80 and ’90 drugs, prostitution, racketeering, arms traffic were the stakes.
Today the mafia clans are not there anymore, but neither is the Police, as they do not enter the quarter, so in the alleys there is insecurity and chaos.
Of the 15,000 inhabitants very few have a regular job, the others try to get by with odd jobs payed under the table, smuggling cigarettes or drugs, or even kidnapping people. The young people have almost all parents in jail or under house arrest and have lost the only people to look up too and therefor live according to their own rules based on violence. Very few kids finish primary school and many become parents at sixteen, which is normal there. All this happens just a few steps away from via Toledo, the center of Naples . Actually it would be more correct to refer to “Quartieri Spagnoli” as a place apart, a city within the city, with well-defined borders that it is virtually impossible to pass. It’s this little world that I wanted to investigate.A little piece of Italy in which time seems to have stopped and found its ways and its rhythms, whose inhabitants feel like on a faraway island, isolated and abandoned by the authorities and that are unable to fit into their own city.