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IL MASTER GERENZA CONTATTI

Solidarity Baskets in Naples


Naples has been the capital of southern Italy. A bustling city of more than two million inhabitants, it suffered the repercussions of COVID-19. Although there have been fewer deaths from COVID-19 in the south of Italy than in the north, the poverty and unemployment rates in southern cities are high. The north-south divide was already strongly present before the pandemic. The south has always been characterised by great solidarity and liveliness. Naples is the emblem of this culture and acts of charity are a hallmark of this city. During the covid pandemic they became a fundamental means of livelihood. One initiative, born during the pandemic, was the solidarity baskets. Pina Andelora and her partner, Angelo Picone, are street musicians who often perform traditional Neapolitan songs in Spaccanapoli, in the heart of the city. They are two community activists in the city who realised the importance of their help when the soup kitchens in Naples were closed. They prepared meals for the homeless and during COVID-19 they came up with another idea, inspired by the example of Giuseppe Moscati, a doctor who lived and worked in the city a century ago. Moscati treated the poor for free and was declared a saint in 1987. The idea was to lower baskets from the balcony with food inside for the poor. "We realized there's the issue of safety and social distance so we relied on an old Neapolitan custom: lowering baskets of food from our balcony," says Picone. In fact, the 'panaro' (in Neapolitan dialect) or 'paniere' (in Italian) is an old tradition in this city. The 'paniere' is a basket of woven wicker that was lowered from the windows by a hemp rope to drop money and pick up the groceries without having to leave the house or open the door to the vendor, or it is useful means if you forget something at home and you don't want to go back to get it. It was mostly used by housewives, busy looking after the children, so as not to leave them alone in the house. The tradition returned with COVID. The couple put a note on their basket with Moscati's slogan: "Those who can, put something in, those who can't, help yourself". The message worked and triggered an explosion of solidarity."People out shopping for groceries now stop by our baskets and leave pasta, sugar, coffee and cans of tuna" he says. In this way, the couple manages to put together food parcels for the poor and homeless. The initiative has been shared on all social networks and has also gone far. A cheese producer in Emilia Romagna contacted Picone and Andelora and promised them a load of Parmesan. A solidarity rooted in Neapolitan culture, already strongly expressed in other traditions such as the "suspended coffee", in which customers pay for an extra coffee in advance, for others who cannot afford it. Picone hopes that these gestures of solidarity will inspire other acts of charity as this crisis will be long and artists are suffering greatly. He wonders when they will be able to return to animate and entertain tourists in the streets of the city. In the meantime, they continue and will continue to take care of the poor with these acts of solidarity.

Cristina Somma

[14.7.2021 - 12:58]



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