PRINT December 2008

Cathryn Drake

AS ORSON WELLES’S CHARACTER famously observed in The Third Man, “In Italy . . . they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Indeed, long after the Renaissance, Italian modernism continued that love affair with trouble—from Futurism’s romanticization of war onward. And at present, Naples is much like a city at war; Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi recently deployed troops to stifle escalating Mafia violence in the city and clean up mounds of refuse left over from the recent garbage crisis. Meanwhile, vigilantes have been torching Roma camps in the wake of a national backlash against immigrants. Naples also lies in the shadow of an active volcano, of course; Mount Vesuvius

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