Red Wedding in the New Castle, Naples

Barons Hall

In the heart of the dark, hulking Castel Nuovo, known locally as the Maschio Angioino (Angevin Keep), is the Hall of the Barons.  Some 28 meter high, the impressive medieval ribbed vaulted roof ‘fuses ancient Roman and Spanish late-Gothic influences‘.  The walls, bare today, were originally frescoed by Giotto in around 1330 with images of ancient heros: Samson, Hercules, Solomon, Achilles, Caesar etc.  It’s still a striking space, designed to shock and awe visitors to this Royal Palace.

But the Hall was also the site of a bloody wedding massacre 500 years ago, a real medieval counterpart to the fictional slaughter of Game of Thrones. Peter Robb picks up the story.  The protagonists were:

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Good news in the fight against the Camorra?

It seems that Antonio Iovine, Camorra Super Boss of the Casalesi clan, the subject of the film Gomorrah,  has turned state witness or pentito.  The Guardian reported that this is the first time someone so senior has broken the code of silence and he may be willing to talk about the ‘business and the criminal underworld, but also about the past two decades of politics in Italy’.  Politicians, local and national are trembling.

What is the Camorra?  In this long and fascinating piece in Vanity Fair in 2012, the author William Langewiesche noted that:

The Camorra is not an organization like the Mafia that can be separated from society, disciplined in court, or even quite defined. It is an amorphous grouping in Naples and its hinterlands of more than 100 autonomous clans and perhaps 10,000 immediate associates, along with a much larger population of dependents, clients, and friends. It is an understanding, a way of justice, a means of creating wealth and spreading it around. It has been a part of life in Naples for centuries—far longer than the fragile construct called Italy has even existed.

What is certain that the Camorra has been around a long time, is large, exerts huge political and economic influence and is prone to feuding.  Iovine’s cooperation with the authorities will shed light of their activities in the local area thought to include illegal dumping, extortion, drug running and prostitution.

Photo:  Arrest of Antonio Iovine in 2010 via the Guardian.

Made Men

In Campania, the NYT reported recently that one environmental group estimates that the local Camorra mafia have illegally buried 10 million tons of toxic garbage since the early 1990s, earning billions of dollars for the mafia even as toxic substances leached into the soil and the water table.  This causes significant health problems including a cluster of cancer cases and has made wholesalers cautious of buying the mozzarella di bufala and other produce from the area.  The cleanup costs would be enormous, if the Italian state could rouse itself to address the problem directly.  Meanwhile the poison continues to seep into the land.

Enjoy your local fruit and vegetables.