Anthropologically Astounding Naples
WRITTEN BY JENNY EVERETT, FALL 2016
For the second field trip of the school year, the Anthropology of Europe and History of Mafia students went to Napoli (Naples) for a day. Napoli’s etymology is from when the Greeks landed and called the area “Neapolis”, which literally translates to “new city”. It is the third largest city in all of Italy, and the largest city of Southern Italy. Within the city there are 27 centuries of history, a different era at every turn. Naples is the birthplace of pizza and the Camorra (one of the major Mafias in Italy).
For lunch, we went to a local Neapolitian house, which also hosted a dance in the street. Before the meal, we watched the homeowner and Antonio perform a classical advertisement that would have been performed for the opening of a butcher shop by someone dressed as Pulcinella. We also saw traditional folk music instruments, such as the putipù, triccaballacca, and the tambourine. We ate a traditional meal of pasta, eggplant parmigiana, and, of course, a little wine to drink with it all. It was quite delicious. While we were eating, the hosts sang to us in traditional Neapolitan. Afterwards, we went outside and danced in the streets. The dance we learned was the Tarantella. In the dance, you are stamping your feet like you are killing a tarantula. While there are no actual tarantulas in the dance, a person is supposed to imagine a tarantula and associate it with all of their stresses. The idea is that the longer you dance, the less stressed you will be and the freer you will be of your problems.
Castel Sant’Elmo is where we went next. We took the tram to the top of the hill and then walked to the Castel. The view was amazing, and from different walls, you can see the entire city of Napoli laid out before you. The fortress is in a hexagonal star shape at the top of what was the highest point in Napoli, making it ideal for a defensive structure. There were real cannons in the castle, which was super cool for us Americans. We then went down the 350 steps, which was a huge journey in and of itself. After that, we were all ready for the train ride back to Sorrento (I personally napped for the hour).
All in all, the students had a great time touring the town with our professor and local, Alberto Corbino. Naples has a reputation for being terrifying and “oh my gosh, you’re going to be robbed and murdered as soon as you get there”. I honestly don’t understand why it is (probably has to do with the Camorra). The city is lovely, the locals are friendly, and everywhere I went, I felt perfectly safe.
"Donne del Mediterraneo" book 2017