Scampia (Italian: [skamˈpiːa]; Neapolitan: Scampìa [ʃkamˈbiːə]) is a modern suburb in the far north of Naples, whose population is about 80,000. To its south are the suburbs of Piscinola-Marianella, Miano and Secondigliano.
Scampia was built as a bedroom suburb in 1960s. The area was mostly developed in the 1970s and 1980s, with huge, high-rise residential blocks, in particular after the 1980 earthquake with construction of housing for displaced Neapolitans. Huge apartment complexes, wide boulevards and a massive park were built, without commercial districts or entertainment venues. With over 50% unemployment, the area has a very high crime rate, with heroin and cocaine sold, and used openly, in the streets.
Large metal gates on some of the walkways and stairs in the blocks of flats have been put there, not by the council, but by the Camorra crime syndicate, so they can be locked by drug pushers as they flee the police.
Scampia was the territory of the Di Lauro clan, which controlled the drug trade, and most other illegal activities in the area. In 2004 a bloody gang war erupted in the area, the so-called Scampia feud, between the Di Lauro family, and a breakaway faction, the so-called "secessionists".
The death of an innocent woman, Gelsomina Verde, caused widespread public revulsion and led to a major crackdown by the authorities. She was abducted, brutally beaten in an effort to get her to disclose the whereabouts of a gang member involved in the feud, and finally shot in the neck. Her body was stuffed in a car that was set on fire.
Vele di Scampia
The Vele di Scampia (English: Sails of Scampia) is a large urban housing project built between 1962 and 1975 in the Scampia neighbourhood. It was named for the triangular shaped buildings, reminiscent of a sail, i.e. wide at the base, narrowing as they rise. They are similar to Marina Baie des Anges in Villeneuve-Loubet, France.
Built as a result of Law 167, which was passed in 1962, the Sails of Scampia were designed by Franz Di Salvo. They were part of a project which also included development of the city of Naples to the east, in Ponticelli. They best represent Di Salvo's style of architectural design. Di Salvo first designed low-cost housing in 1945. He worked in collaboration with other architects, to design the District of Cesare Battisti Poggioreale, which represented the paradigm of a "new way of thinking" about social housing.
After years of continuous design experiments, the task of establishing a large apartment complex in Scampia was entrusted to the Cassa del Mezzogiorno. The design followed the housing unit principles articulated by Le Corbusier for the design of public housing. He was influenced by the trestle structures proposed by Kenzō Tange. Di Salvo proposed a plan for the district which was based on two building types: a "tower" and "tent". The tent type provides the dominant impression of sails. The tower-type buildings are provided with social centers, play spaces, and other community facilities.
Originally, the complex consisted of seven massive apartment blocks, and housed from 40,000 to 70,000 people, although a real headcount was never conducted. Three of the seven blocks have been demolished, but some 40,000 people still live in the damaged structures.
The idea behind the project was to provide a huge public housing project, where hundreds of families could socialize and create a community. The design included a public transportation rail station, and a large park area between the two buildings. The planners wanted to create a small city model with large parks, playing fields, and other facilities.
However, various causes have led to what is now regarded as a ghetto. Right after the earthquake in 1980, many families in the area were left homeless. Many of these families without shelter started to occupy the apartments illegally. Tolerated and ignored by the government, more people started to occupy the buildings including criminals.
Things were made worse by the total lack of police presence, resulting in drug trafficking, illegal street racing, gangs, and fencing operations. The first police station for the area was established in 1987, exactly fifteen years after people began occupying the apartments.
In popular culture
The music video for French rap duo PNL's single "Le Monde ou Rien" was recorded in and around the neighbourhood. Another music video for the French rapper SCH's single "Gomorra" was recorded in the neighbourhood buildings.
Le Vele di Scampia is featured by poet and writer Emanuele Cerullo, a resident of one of the buildings. He describes through poetry the dreams and hopes of Scampia's adolescents, portraying a different view of living in this project than that depicted by the media.
Notes and references
- In Naples, a Mob Family Feud, The Washington Post, February 8, 2005
- Mafia vice blights Naples school, BBC News, November 30, 2004
- Weekends turn bloody in Naples mafia war, The Guardian, December 18, 2004
- Naples police in huge mafia swoop, BBC News, December 7, 2004
- Gang's Deadly Feud Plagues Naples, Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2005
- 'The blood is running': Mafia wars erupt again, The Independent, December 8, 2004
- (in Italian) Le Vele di Scampia, cultura e progetto in AA.VV. Francesco Di Salvo. Opere e progetti, (pp. 69–82)
- (in Italian) Le Vele di Scampia, una storia lunga 54 anni nel cuore di "Gomorra", La Repubblica, 11 March 2016
- Ghirardo, Italy: Modern Architectures in History, pp. 163–64
- Streets of 'Gomorrah', Newsweek magazine issue dated December 22, 2008
- PNL - Le monde ou rien
- SCH - Gomorra
- Ghirardo, Diane (2013). Italy: Modern Architectures in History, London: Reaktion Books, ISBN 978-1-86189-864-7
- (in English) Drug, feuds and blood in the land of the Camorra - SCAMPIA 24 Video-documentary of the newspaper Il Mattino
- (in Italian) L'Altra Scampia video documentary on Scampia
- (in Italian) Ballarò: droga a Scampia (Secondigliano, Napoli) video report on drug trafficking in Scampia
- Scampia Camorra Napoli Ground Zero video impression