The world’s number one guidebook publisher, Lonely Planet, has no doubt that the multi-face, hectic character of Naples is what makes it “Italy’s coolest city,” especially for anyone who wants to see a raw and untamed side of the Bel Paese. Indeed, the capital of the Campania region has it all, from a lively nightlife for students looking for cheap drinks and buzzing night clubs to sophisticated bars in art galleries and publishing houses as well as communities of contemporary artists. From gigs in the Spanish Quarter to aperitives in the smart area of Chiaia, near the seaside, each night of the week lends itself to hanging out on the street outside a different bar.
All of this has been available in Naples’ street and alleys throughout the 20th century, and that’s why artists such as Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, and Andy Warhol could not resist its charm, but today the city’s unsanitized street culture and crumbling architecture have been made popular by the success of ‘My Brilliant Friend‘ by Elena Ferrante and ‘Gomorrah‘ by Roberto Saviano. Even Banksy has chosen the already heavily decorated walls of Naples’ historic center to leave his only sign in Italy – onto a wall in Piazza dei Girolamini, he stenciled a Madonna figure in blue-grey tones with a gun above her head in the place of a halo. But then, street art by local and international artists here is so much part of the urban fabric that even the mayor has pledged his support for this form of art that fits with the “city’s social and political revolutionary drive.”
Naples oozes so much culture and artistic charm that the famous Thomas Dane Gallery arrived here from London to welcome exhibitions of international artists. However, there is no shortage of local curators. One of them is Raffaela Naldi Rossano, also an artist herself, who runs ‘Sibilla Cabinet’, an ecofeminist and critical-theory bookshop in her own artist-run gallery space, where she invites artists and writers encouraging a conversation about what it means to inhabit Naples.
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