A video about Naples during the COVID-19 outbreak was broadcast on the French television, recently. The solidarity, the support, the humanity, and, mostly, the beauty portrayed made me cry.
A basket hanged (panaro) with a rope – generally used from the balconies to buy from vendors in the street – appeared in the city center, with the message Chi può metta, chi non può prenda (Those who can, give, those who can’t, help yourself.) You may have seen it shared by Madonna on Instagram.
This message is very dear to Neapolitans, as Giuseppe Moscati had it in his office. Moscati was a doctor – a saint according by the catholic church – that lived and worked in Naples; you can still admire his office in the back of the Gesù Nuovo church.
The panaro solidale was hung for the first time from the balcony of two local artists, that prepared meals for the less fortunate, for all the people that could not afford to eat.
Naples is not the richest city in Italy. Unemployment is high, and full-time work is low. Many people survive with small daily jobs, with no fixed income, nor rights. It is a place where people live adopting “the art of making do.”
When Italy was put in lock-down, at the beginning of March, many people lost that small source of income that would let them survive.
However, Neapolitan population is inherently caring and supportive.
It has been like that throughout history. We invented the tradition of the pending coffee, when someone would leave a paid coffee for someone in need – now also transformed in the pending pizza by a famous pizzeria.
There, you could – and somewhere you still can – eat a deep-fried pizza on credit, and pay after 8 days.
Every day, a multitude of volunteer associations works in Naples to help the less fortunate, with food, clothes, and even doctors appointments (one day I will write about the Ex-OPG).
Right now, a beautiful solidarity chain is in motion, by the associations, the supermarkets (the pending shopping cart was born), the council, but most of all, by the people.
And this hanging basket, filled with food, solidarity, and home-cooked meals has soon become the world symbol of the Neapolitan spirit.