Naples is home to Vicolo della Cultura, Italy's first Alley of Culture. The initiative combines literature and street art to give voice to the fight against organised crime and a clear signal to revive this city area. Thanks to the support of great artists and Opportunity Onlus in association with Toraldo, the heart of Naples joyfully welcomes the propositional approach of this project. Murals, artistic installations and small cultural kiosks, all free of charge, have transformed Via Montesilvano into an open-air museum, where both tourists and residents can feel part of a charming city that never ceases to amaze.
The initiative of an open-air library
The Vicolo della Cultura in Naples is located in Via Montesilvano, in the heart of the Sanità district. Next to ancient votive kiosks dating back to the eighteenth century, visitors can find the modern cultural booths that Onlus Opportunity installed to transform this street into an authentic open-air library. This initiative supported by Toraldo, the famous Italian coffee company, involves the free distribution of hundreds of textbooks (some donated by Neapolitan writers Maurizio De Giovanni and Lorenzo Marone) near an asset confiscated from the local organised crime. The alleys tangling in the Sanità district are yearning for revenge, and the Vicolo della Cultura seems to be the answer. The books' initiative is framed by the art project that colours the alleys with beautiful street art depicting the great exponents of Neapolitan culture. The path through Via Montesilvano and its surroundings is coloured by artistic productions halfway between murals and paintings. Each splash of colour gives new life to the confiscated structures located there.
The Opportunity Onlus
The Opportunity Onlus is a young association founded about ten years ago to sing the praises of the fight against organised crime. Young people joined the voluntary initiative, giving this beautiful city area a new chance. Guided by Davide d'Errico, founder of the non-profit organisation, many volunteers conceived, developed and created an association whose aim is to lend a hand to the neediest. So, they provide free medical and legal assistance to those who need it and organise free theatre, language, and after-school courses for the district's children. Culture replaced illegality, and solidarity replaced silence. All the volunteers of Opportunity Onlus have worked and still do it to give a new face to the Sanità district. The Vicolo della Cultura is one of the projects that allows them to do so through art and culture.
A walk through votive shrines and cultural exhibitions
As mentioned before, some Italian companies collaborated with the non-profit organisation on this project. Inspired by an old Neapolitan saying, the Toraldo t'accumpagna campaign was born. In the 18th century, Father Gregorio Rocco decided to put up votive images of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus on the walls of the Sanità district alleys. The citizens were given the task of keeping them lit at all times. The Father instilled confidence in them by repeating the phrase "a Maronn t'accumpagna" (may the Virgin Mary be with you) that has become famous in the Neapolitan everyday speech. That is how the first source of lighting in Naples - which significantly lowered the crime rate - and the renowned votive booths that still characterise the city's alleyways were born. They wanted to follow in the footsteps of this ancient Neapolitan heritage and thus make its own contribution to the Vicolo della Cultura project. The cultural booths in Via Montesilvano have their ancestors in the votive kiosks founded in the eighteenth century. Today, they contribute to the magnificent photographic and artistic exhibitions produced by Mario Schiano and Gianluca Raro portraying Totò, Sophia Loren, Massimo Troisi, Pino Daniele and Peppino De Filippo. The portraits preside over the Sanità district in memory of Naples' glorious past.