New Elena Ferrante street art unveiled in Naples

New street art celebrating Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels was unveiled this week in the city that inspired them.

New Elena Ferrante street art unveiled in Naples
The new Elena Ferrante mural on a public library in Naples. Photo: Regione Campania/Facebook

The murals, officially unveiled on Monday, adorn the walls of a public library in Rione Luzzatti, the working-class neighbourhood wedged behind the city's train tracks where Ferrante's four novels are believed to be set.

They show the series' two protagonists, Lila Cerullo and Lenù Greco, as young girls heading for the library's doors, as well as their school teacher, Maestra Oliviero, waiting inside and other children running with their book bags.

Lila and Lenù. Photo: Regione Campania/Facebook

The librarian of the girls' childhood, Maestro Ferraro, is pictured sitting on a bench by the entrance and holding a portrait of a real-life librarian, Agostino Collina, who founded the Biblioteca Andreoli – the area's first public lending library after World War Two – in the 1940s. The city of Naples recently announced plans to rename the institution after “Maestro” Collina.

The rest of the characters' pictures were based on the actors portraying them in the Italian-US TV adaptation of the novels coproduced by Rai and HBO, which aired to acclaim at the end of 2018. The images were created by Eduardo Castaldo, the show's photographer, who blew up his stills from the set and used them to create life-size cut-outs.






A post shared by Consigliere di strada (@carmine.meloro) on Jan 28, 2019 at 9:33am PST

With funding from the region of Campania, Castaldo plans to create other Ferrante-inspired murals around Naples. 

“Instead of doing gigantic murals, I like the idea of doing a lot of small ones, to recreate the presence of characters from the books, the series, and from everybody’s imagination,” he told City Lab. “When installations are too big, you have to stand back to take pictures. With these small ones, you have to enter the [neighbourhood]. This way, you may get to know the place, and bring some money in, too.”

READ ALSO: 'How I fell in love with Naples, a city full of contrasts'

The old town in Naples. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

'Ferrante fever' already attracts new visitors to Naples, especially international readers who encountered the series in its bestselling English translation. Several companies run tours of the books' settings, though it's unclear how much residents of Rione Luzzatti, historically one of Naples' most deprived neighbourhoods, have benefitted.

Some were disappointed when producers decided to film the TV adaptation in a specially constructed set rather than the streets of the Rione, a choice they said they made for logistical reasons.

An investment of €2 million to create a neighbourhood health centre was announced at the unveiling ceremony on Monday, which was attended by the governor of the Campania region, Vincenzo Di Luca, as well as Castaldo and actors from the TV series.

A crowdfunding effort raised more than €6,000 for a separate project that will see local schoolchildren and artists collaborate on a much larger mural inspired by Ferrante's work. The painting is expected to be completed in the same neighbourhood this spring.

After the seven episodes of My Brilliant Friend, there are plans to adapt the next of Ferrante's novels, The Story of A New Name, for a second season expected to air in late 2019.

READ ALSO: Six Italian series worth watching beyond My Brilliant Friend



Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.