Naples, 1943



Considerations on the film “Paisà”, directed by Roberto Rossellini

“1944 – The effects of the bombings in the Market Square”, Carbone Photographic Archive

A boy and a man travel through various places in the city of Naples, in its immediate post-war period.[1] They are a small local orphan and a black American soldier, member of the Military Police. The scenario through which they roam is one of physical and moral destruction, where what counts is survival. Pascà (Pasquale) and Joe belong to different cultures, speak different languages, so the possibility of verbal communication between the two is almost nil. There will be times, however, when understanding will take place on another level, that of the senses, as both are marginalized beings, not because of circumstances, but because of their life history.

This would be a possible, non-factual summary of the second episode of Paisa (paisa), a film that Roberto Rossellini shot between mid-January and the end of June 1946, in addition to some complementary shooting in August, according to Adriano Aprà. The project arose from a script by Klaus Mann, son of writer Thomas Mann, a former combatant in the US Army and contributor to the military newspaper The stars and stripes. Written in September 1945, the script was entitled Seven from the US, in English, or seven americani, in Italian, which leaves no doubt about who the protagonists of the film would be.[2]

Before filming, the project began to undergo a series of modifications: the episodes were reduced to six and the prologue was eliminated, in which, thanks to quick flashes, all the characters would be introduced to the audience. In addition, each episode should conclude with the death of a war hero and with the image of “a white cross in a military cemetery” as a way of paying “a respectful and affectionate tribute to the memory of those Americans who lost their lives for the Liberation of Italy” and to launch a “message to his nation”, according to Stefania Parigi in the text “In viaggio con Paisa".

The changes became more profound from the moment Rossellini decided to recruit Italian collaborators to rewrite the script, script and dialogues. [3], and especially during filming, when direct contact with the reality to be portrayed and the physical presence of the performers (professional actors or not) led to altering the pace of the episodes and transforming the making of Paisa num Work in progress. The centrality of the action shifted from focusing on the US military and the Italian characters were no longer mere supporting actors.

In this way, the obligation to celebrate the Allies as liberators, due to US funding (as Luisa Rivi recorded), became relativized and the film ended up expressing, in the words of Fabio Rinaudo, “the pain, the virtue, the haughtiness, goodness, longing for freedom, simplicity” of the Italian people. For Stefano Roncoroni, the “ideological dimension” of Paisa it can be reached “not by a simple analysis of the contents, but of the style. Rossellini accentuates his artistic selfishness, tries to be himself, fulfills himself in films, tries to film his states of mind and makes use of ideologies, power, dollars, religion, but no one can say that he belongs to him: his Rescue takes place at the level of the work”.

If it was based on reality that the film's narration was structured, however, this reality, filtered by the director's subjectivity, was offered to the spectators' eyes more as an invitation to reflect on the consequences of the passage of history in men's lives. than as a mere objective portrait. It was more the anthropological than the historical record that interested Rossellini: “the effort I made […] was to become aware of the events in which he had been immersed, by which he had been dragged. It was the exploration not only of historical facts, but precisely of attitudes, of behaviors that that certain climate and that certain historical situation determined. […] starting from the phenomenon and exploring it, making all consequences, even political ones, spring from it freely; I never started from consequences and never wanted to demonstrate anything, I just wanted to observe, look objectively, morally at reality and try to explore it so that a lot of data would emerge from which, then, certain consequences could be drawn”.

Even without aiming at a historical systematization, throughout its episodes, Paisa chronologically followed the advance of the Allied Army across the Italian peninsula – from the beach of Gela to the Po plain, passing through Naples, Rome, Florence and a convent in the Apennines of Romagna –, from the landing of Anglo-American troops in Sicily (July 10 1943) until the days before the end of the war in Italy (April 25, 1945). The voice over an announcer, as if it were a newsreel, was stitching together the six fragments. Although his comments were in Italian, this locution could be identified with the other's voice, since it told an official – North American – version of the story. At the beginning of the second episode, this voice explained:

“The war passed quickly through the southern regions of Italy. On September 8, the Allied fleet's guns were aimed at Naples. With German resistance broken in Salerno, the Anglo-Americans landed on the Amalfi coast and, a few weeks later, Naples was liberated. The port of that city became the most important logistical center of the war in Italy”.

Information about the liberation of Naples corresponds more to the official bulletins of the Allied Forces[4] than the reality experienced by the city, which single-handedly freed itself from the yoke of the Nazi-fascists in an insurrection, fierce and without truce, which involved all its inhabitants, between September 27th and 30th, 1943, and which became known as “le quattro giornate di Napoli” (the four days of Naples).[5] Like every popular struggle, this one also had its heroes: they were the street urchins, who sacrificed themselves to free the city.[6]

A myth fueled by war correspondents,[7] like the photographer Robert Capa, who, impressed by the wake of boys killed in combat, when he found two ragged kids on the street, leaning against two old rifles and smoking a cigarette, asked them to strike a pose, portraying them as combatants . On the morning of October 1st, therefore, when the Quinta Armada had entered Naples, ready to face an arduous battle against the Nazis for the conquest of the city, it had found a festive population welcoming it, despite the hunger, the dirt and the reigning destruction. Capa, in his memoirs as a war correspondent, corroborated this version: “the final attack on Naples was scheduled for the following morning. […] We met no resistance on the way and stopped only to ask if the road ahead was safe, to have a sip of wine or perhaps to kiss a girl. In Pompeii, one of the soldiers became raving about the erotic paintings on the walls of ancient ruins. […] We tipped the guides and continued on our way to Naples. The new ruins of Naples had very different paintings from the previous ones. […] Taking victory photographs is like taking pictures of a church wedding ten minutes after the newlyweds have left. The ceremony in Naples had been very brief. A bit of confetti still glistened amidst the dirty floor, but the empty-bellied revelers had quickly dispersed […]. With my cameras around my neck, I walked through the deserted streets […]”.

Em Paisa, the official version, told by the other, opposes the veracity of the images, not necessarily the archival ones, which opened each part of the film and which could still keep remnants of this foreign narration, but those of the reconstitution of the events, as in the case of the episode on screen. Events that took place in 1943 were recreated in 1946, when the scenario of those events had not yet changed much, as the consequences of the bombings that the city suffered,[8] in addition to the systematic destruction carried out by the Germans before they retreated,[9] could not be overcome quickly. A landscape that, in part, remained untouched in the following decade, when I traveled through it in my childhood, as several parts of the city were still in ruins. It is these fragments of unresolved reality captured by the camera that, for me, give the Paisa its true character of testimony, or rather, which give back to me as a spectator the “real image” of an era, as Marc Ferro would say.

Viewed from a distance, these memories take on an almost cinematographic tempo. I am faced with my view from the top of Porta Capuana, with the square and its surroundings, through which I passed so many times with my mother, the same one populated at the beginning of the episode by people trying to survive from small expedients, such as negotiating drunk black soldiers to steal their belongings, in a clear reversal of roles between dominating and dominated. Among these people, Pascà and other boys stand out, typical street urchins. How will you describe, in the novel The shovel (The skin, 1949), Curzio Malaparte: “The dream of all poor Neapolitans, especially the scugnizzi, the boys, was to be able to buy a black, even for a few hours. […] When a scugnizzo managed to grab a black man by the sleeve of his coat and drag him behind him […], from every window, from every doorway, from every corner, a hundred mouths, a hundred eyes, a hundred hands shouted- him: 'Sell me your black! I'll give you twenty dollars! Thirty dollars! Fifty dollars!'. That's what it was called the flying market, 'the flying market'. Fifty dollars was the highest price you could pay to buy a black man for a day, that is to say, for a few hours: the time needed to get him drunk, strip him of everything he had with him, from his cap to his boots, and then, When night had fallen, I left him naked on the flagstones of an alley. The black man didn't suspect a thing. He did not realize that he was bought and resold every quarter of an hour, and he walked along innocently and happily, all proud of his shiny golden shoes, his well-tailored uniform, his yellow gloves, his rings, his golden teeth. , his big white eyes […]. The black man did not realize that the boy who held him by the hand, who caressed his wrist, spoke sweetly to him and looked at him with meek eyes, changed from time to time. […] The price of a black man on the 'flying market' was calculated by his largeness and ease in making expenses, by his voracity in drinking and eating, by the way he smiled, lit a cigarette, looked at a woman. […] While he wandered from bar to bar, from inn to inn, from brothel to brothel, while he smiled, drank, ate, while he caressed a girl's arms [10], the Negro did not suspect that he had become a commodity to be traded, he did not even suspect that he was being bought and sold like a slave.

It certainly wasn't dignified for black soldiers in the US Army to so kind, only black, so respectable, having won the war, having landed in Naples as victors and found themselves in the situation of being sold and bought like poor slaves”.

As in a lightning kidnapping, Pascà who managed to stay with Joe, spreading the false news of the arrival of the police (corruption of police, in Neapolitan), tries to earn the greatest possible profit in a very short period of time, dragging his prey through the streets of Naples. Following with them, I glimpse, in general plan, Piazza Cavour in its old conformation, while the boy and the soldier cross the tram tracks to enter a puppet theater.

There, when watching the combat between a paladin and a Saracen, Joe, unlike the other spectators, identifying with the Moor, invades the stage, triggering a fight in which the strange element is attacked by the others, in yet another demonstration of the troubled coexistence between the Italian people and their liberators – now allies, but once enemies. One of the problems was constituted by the fact that Anglo-Americans saw in every Italian a follower of Mussolini – “You Italian, you fascist”, they constantly repeated, as Gian Franco Venè noted and as my father reported. Enrique Seknadje-Askenazi underlined that: “This relationship cannot be reduced to that of two allied entities fighting for the same objective, suddenly understanding and respecting each other, but it involves a portion of mistrust, enmity, violence and misunderstandings, of frustrations and disappointments, and is based on divergent interests”.

Accompanying the wanderings of the two protagonists, my gaze, in a zum, returns to the wreckage of Market Square, still present in my childhood and which I saw in a 1944 photo from the Carbone Photographic Archive, wreckage so similar to the ruins on which the two characters rest, in a moment of intense communion and realization of the social exclusion of both. Joe, “chasing his inner ghosts” (in the words of Leonardo De Franceschi), begins a long soliloquy, interrupted here and there by Pascà's exclamations, who tries to participate and seems to understand the pain and joy that alternate in that account. Still under the effect of drunkenness, the soldier, after chanting the beginning of gospel “Nobody knows the troubles I've seen”, describes a storm on the high seas and a plane flying, in a clear sky, takes him to New York, where he is welcomed festively for his deeds, without realizing it, in his daydream, that “it would have been inconceivable for the hero of such an adventure to be black”, as Siobhan S. Craig pointed out.

The euphoria begins to give way to tiredness, when the whistle of a train revives him and makes him imagine his return home. At the beginning of his speech, Joe, excited, imitates the rhythm of the train that will take him back, but soon realizes that he does not want to return. Heartbroken, he falls asleep, to the despair of Pascà, who is thus forced to steal his shoes. Despite the apparent lack of communication, the two never ceased to understand each other, because, deep down, they belong to the same universe of marginalized people: if for the little Neapolitan the key to a house that no longer exists becomes useless, for the black As a North American, the end of the war would mean returning to his status as an inhabitant of “an old shack with pieces of tin on the door”.

This moment of equalization between the two lives is soon replaced by an act of affirmation by the soldier. Faced with these new images, I see my eyes following the traveling that the tram gave me when running along the rails of Via Marina, along the port, the same street where Joe surprises Pascà stealing boxes of merchandise from Allied Army trucks. The American gives a moral lesson and starts a fight with the boy, but regrets his behavior until he finds out that he is the kid who had stolen his shoes three days before. Now sober and feeling superior, Joe fulfills his role as a defender of order, oblivious to what happens around him. Although the episode does not (and could not) show all the circumstances, the Anglo-Americans, when occupying the city, along with cigarettes, chewing gum, chocolate, pea soup [11] and nylon stockings, they brought corruption [12] and prostitution.

As my parents told me so many times and how I found it again in The shovel, Naples became an open-air brothel, where smuggling and the black market reigned, while moral values ​​crumbled [13]. In short, it experienced a “brief degenerate vitality”, as the writer Raffaele La Capria observed: “Naples was a very lively, explosive city, permeated by such a feverish charge of vitality that it almost seemed to want to recover in a few months all the years of torpor and of ruins, which they had just passed. It was a wonderful vitality, it was as if the Neapolitans lived following the frantic rhythm of the boogie-woogies, that the segnorine[14] from the popular neighborhoods knew how to dance with a variety of evolutions and with an energy superior to that of any American soldier”.

This fictitious festive, sunny Naples was opposed by a somber Naples, which had not yet recovered from the disasters of war, such as the caves of Mergellina, where Pascà takes Joe when he demands the return of his shoes. I don't keep a visual memory of these caves, because I've never been there, but the story of the city is part of the story of people who, during the war (and even after), for fear of the bombings or for having lost their homes, made that and from other subterranean places his abode. Living conditions were not very different from those faced, even in times of peace, by poor families in Naples, accustomed to crowding into rooms on the ground floor of buildings (called bassi), made up of a single room that generally opened onto an internal courtyard or an alley, poorly ventilated and often humid. An atavistic misery that surprises Joe, when he finds that “the Neapolitans are in a worse situation than the American blacks. He flees in terror from an ignominy that the boy has been facing and accepting for some time. In this way, the story about an American became a story about Italy”, as Tag Gallagher concluded.

Although this has been a recurrent reading of the outcome of the Neapolitan episode, in my view, because of the mirroring that is built between the two protagonists throughout their journey, Joe, in addition to understanding the stupidity of his arrogance and demand, does not just run away of the reality of Pascà, but also of what awaits him when he returns home. The misery he faces in the caves of Naples takes him back to another misery that remained unchanged in his country as well, to a condition that seems intrinsic to a portion of humanity.

With his hasty escape, he tries to break the mirroring and once again leaves the kid abandoned, who, in his interaction with him, had somehow filled his affective void. In this final fragment, more than the words, what counts is the orchestration of gestures and looks. As Leonardo De Franceschi pointed out, “Rossellini manages to make bodies speak, giving expression […] to a search for contact that is unsuccessful (Pascà’s) and a search for truth that produces unsustainable knowledge (Joe’s)” .

After the presentation of the film at the first post-war Venice Film Festival, in an article reproduced by Stefania Parigi in “Un'idea di Lino Micciché”, Gino Visentini, correspondent for Il corriere della sera (September 19, 1946), wrote: “Paisa it is a scrapbook of memories, in which we are all; in a few years, it may seem like one of the most intelligent and accurate documents in relation to those times full of impetus and hopes, but unfortunately already far away”.[15] In fact, for me, “flying through” the second episode of Paisa it's like flipping through a family album, chronologically ordering simple and sparse stories that were told to me almost like fables, at the whim of memory. This is not only because Rossellini knew how to recreate, through the brute force of his images, those cruel times, but above all because, along with this plunge into reality, the director, thanks to his sensitivity, knew how to give back, to those who, like me, did not witness them, what were the feelings (fears, passions and even hopes) that ran through my hometown in that distant and fateful year of 1943.[16] deeply mine.

*Mariarosaria Fabris is a retired professor at the Department of Modern Letters at FFLCH-USP. Author, among other books, of Italian cinematographic neo-realism: a reading (Edusp).

Revised version of “Naples, 1943: recollections”, published in Annals of the VII National Seminar of the Memory Center – UNICAMP, 2012.



ANTONELLIS, Giacomo de. The four days of Naples. Milan: Bompiani, 1973.

APRÀ, Adriano. “Le due version of Paisa”. In: PARIGI, Stefania (org.). Country: analysis of the film. Venice: Marsilio, 2005, p. 151-161.

BASILE, Luisa; MOREA, Delia. Lazzari and scugnizzi: the long story I gave figli of the Napoletan popolo. Rome: Newton, 1996.

BERTOLUCCI, Attilio. “Rome city tightens”. In: ________. Riflessi gives a paradise: written by southern cinema. Bergamo: Moretti & Vitali, 2009, p. 64-65.

CAPA, Robert. Slightly out of focus. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2010.

CAPRIA, Raffaele La. fake partenze. Milan: Mondadori, 1995.

Flash della memoria: volti, paesaggi, avvenimenti di Napoli dagli anni '20 al dopoguerra. Naples: Edizioni Intra Moenia, sd [collection of snapshots from the Carbone Photographic Archive].

CRAIG, Siobhan S. Cinema after Fascism: the shattered screen. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010.

DURING, Francesco. Scuorno (Vergogna). Milan: Mondadori, 2010.

FERRO, Marc. Cinema et story. Paris: Denoël-Gonthier, 1977.

PHILIPPO. Edward De. The poems. Turin: Einaudi, 2004.

FRANCESCHI, Leonardo D. “Fra Teatro e Storia, la doppia scena del reale”. In: PARIGI, op. cit., p. 57-71.

GALLAGHER, Tag. The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998.

MALAPARTE, Curzio. The skin. São Paulo: Abril Cultural, 1972.

MARCO, Paolo De. Polvere di piselli: daily life in Napoli during the occupation alleata (1943-44). Naples: Liguori, 1996.

PARIGI, Stefania. “Un'idea di Lino Micciché”. In: PARIGI, op. cit., p. 7-12.

PARIGI, Stefania. “In travel with Paisa”. In: PARIGI, op. cit., p. 13-39.

RINAUDO, Fabio. Rome, city tightens: a film by Roberto Rossellini. Padua: Editrice RADAR, 1969.

RIVI, Luisa. European cinema after 1989: cultural identity and transnational production. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007.

RONCORONI, Stefano. “Not a straight line, but a parallel one”. In: ROSSELLINI, Roberto. The trilogy of war: Rome, Città tightens, Paisà, Germania anno zero. Bologna: Cappelli, 1972, p. 17-24.

ROSSELLINI, Roberto. “L'intelligenza del presente”. In: ROSSELLINI, op. cit., p. 11-15.

SEKNADJE-ASKENAZI, Enrique. Roberto Rossellini et la Seconde Guerre Mondiale: a filmmaker between propaganda and realism. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2000.

VENÈ, Gian Franco. Vola colomba – quotidiana degli italiani negli anni del dopoguerra: 1945-1960. Milan: Mondadori, 1990.



[1] As the Allied Forces moved up the Italian peninsula, the country began to rebuild. Reconstruction took place between 1943-44 and 1953, thanks to US subsidies, mainly those from the Marshall plan (1947-1952).

[2] The title Paisa it probably came about during the filming of the second episode, in which Joe repeatedly addresses Pasca using the term undercover. paesano (in Italian) or country (in the dialects of the South) designates who is born or lives in a paese (= “country”, “village”). Paisa it is used as a vocative among countrymen and it was with him that the Allied Forces addressed the civilian population of Italy.

[3] Cf. film credits, where it is registered that the script is by Sergio Amidei (with the collaboration of Klaus Mann, Federico Fellini, Marcello Pagliero, Alfred Hayes and Roberto Rossellini) and the script and dialogues are by Amidei, Fellini and Rossellini.

[4] On October 1, two diaries written in Salerno, in accordance with the norms of the Psychological Warfare Branch, spoke of “liberation” (Napoli Church) and the “fall” (Corriere di Salerno) of the city, while the headline of the Neapolitan newspaper Roma announced: “The Anglo-American vanguards entered Naples in tanks covered with flowers”, according to Giacomo Antonellis.

[5] On the 16th of October, in a letter addressed to my mother, who had taken refuge in her relatives' village of origin, my father, who was still in Naples, recorded the final moments of the war in the city: “And then came the days more terrible than all of us in Naples had to endure, those of the German domain. Many soldiers, like true patriots, obeying Badoglio's orders, immediately attacked the Germans to liberate the city [...]. The German sappers, obeying the orders of their infamous boss, destroyed what little was left of the factories with dynamite. The whole city was under the nightmare of terror, explosions on all sides, earthquakes, which looked like an earthquake [...]. Meanwhile, the Germans had begun the manhunt […]. The mandatory work service order was issued, a false pretext for deporting all young people to Germany. Of the 30 who on the first day had to show up for roll call, only 150 showed up. German rage knew no bounds, men's raids began [...]. In the afternoon, even the houses are no longer respected, the Germans enter, taking the men away, the streets are blocked [...]. At night, the news is not good at all, they promise us that they will massacre us […]. Radio London does not comfort us. It's the next day, September 28th, now there's nothing left to do, Praça Carlos III is the place where we have to meet. […] we hide in a building where the news is brought to us by boys and women, we see many who are going to perform, time passes and not a single German is in sight. A gentleman in the building gives us the good news, the Americans have broken through the front, the Germans are fleeing, try to hide, it's just a matter of days […]. In the afternoon, as if by magic, all the men are armed, it's no longer the hunt for the Italian, it's the hunt for the German and the fascists, his accomplices. The young men and boys of Naples fight well, and they never rest, not a single German or Fascist leaves Naples […]. Finally, on Friday, October 1st, the Allies arrived, the nightmare was over.” In the movie Achtung! Bandits! (Achtung! Bandits!, 1951), Carlo Lizzani portrayed the trail of destruction that the Germans were leaving in their retreat from Italy, by focusing on the struggle of a group of workers who, under the orders of an engineer and with the help of supporters, sought to prevent the Nazis from transferring the machines in the factory where he worked to Germany.

[6] O urchin he was the typical Neapolitan boy, alive in the memory of the city as he had been portrayed in the XNUMXth century: hungry, dirty, disheveled, barefoot, ragged, but cheerful, daring, very smart, who survived on odd jobs and petty thefts and often slept out in the open , for being an orphan, having been abandoned or having run away from home. When I was a child, it was said that street urchins they had the same role as dogs in Russia, which went to meet German tanks with Molotov bombs strapped to their bodies. Truth or myth, in any case, the only four awarded gold medals were young people aged 18, 17, 13 and 12, who died in combat. The smallest of them, Gennaro Capuozzo, commonly known as Gennarino, became the symbol of the street urchins.

[7] And for the local population: in 1978, Eugenio Bennato wrote “Canto allo scugnizzo”, much applauded in the shows of his group Musicanova. Cinema and literature also exalted them in works that focused on warlike confrontations in the city, such as 'O my sun (1946), by Giacomo Gentilomo, and The four days of Naples (1962), by Nanny Loy, the play Morso di luna nuova: racconto per voci in tre stanza (2005), by Erri De Luca, and I ragazzi in Via Tribunali (2011), by Giacomo Migliore.

[8] There were more than one hundred bombings by the British (November 1940-November 1941), North Americans (between December 4, 1942 and September 8, 1943, the most constant) and Germans (after having been expelled from the city, like that of the night between March 14 and 15, 1944, a few days before the eruption of Vesuvius). US bombings killed many civilians. One of the most terrible was that of December 4, 1942, which my mother told me about so many times and which I found again in the pages of La lady di piazza (1961), by Michele Prisco, which hit the main post office building, when the bodies of many dead were collected with shovels, they were so torn apart. I still remember Clark Gable, who served in the Air Force, being afraid of the reaction of the Neapolitan population when filming It started in Naples (It happened in Naples, 1960), by Melville Shavelson. For me it was very exciting to see Naples, Naples, Naples (Naples, Naples, Naples, 2009), by Abel Ferrara, excerpts from a documentary showing a bomber Liberator, then several others, dropping their deadly charge upon the city; ruins, distribution of food and the happy population welcoming the foreign soldiers, to the sound of a soft melody, which sings the charms of Naples.

[9] On the night of September 12, 1943, Colonel Walter Scholl took possession of Naples and its environs. Adolf Hitler wanted to see the city that had been decked out to receive him in 1938 reduced to mud and ashes (as a maternal uncle told me and as I saw in a snapshot of the Carbone Photographic Archive taken at the time). So, in the following days, Scholl, following the Führer's orders, began the program of mass deportation of men to Germany. The deportees were destined for concentration camps or war material factories. My father was among these prisoners, but an Austrian officer let him escape. He was a childhood friend, born like him in Gorizia (in Friuli, North East Italy), when the city still belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire.

[10] The troubled relationship between black soldiers and Italian women, addressed by Rossellini in the third episode of Paisa and by Alberto Lattuada, in Mercilessly (No mercy, 1948), gave rise to the song Black tammurriata (1944), in which EA Mario and Edoardo Nicolardi put their finger on one of the wounds of the city in that period: the birth of black children, the so-called “children of shame”, that the US government ordered to be forcibly removed from Neapolitan mothers, who hadn't disowned them, and take them to special orphanages in the United States. Some children escaped this fate, like the saxophonist James Senese, who John Turturro interviews in Passion (Passion, 2010), a film he dedicated to Naples.

[11] Symptomatically, the most complete study on the presence of the Allied Forces in Naples is entitled powder of piselli, authored by Paolo De Marco. My mother also spoke of the powdered egg, adding that, after the days of the blackest famine had passed, the Neapolitans, who did not appreciate gastronomic innovations very much, began to use them to paint the rooms in the houses green or yellow, as she recorded also Eduardo De Filippo in “'A pòver' 'e pesielle”: “'Salvatore, / nepòtemo, ha fatto na penzata: / ce l'ha vennuta tutta a nu pittore; // 'o quale l'ha vulluta, l'ha mpastata / e ha pittat' 'a cucina 'e nu signore… / ma dice ch'è venuta na pupata'” (Translation: “'Savior, / my nephew thought [ in a solution]: / he sold it all to a painter; // who boiled it, mixed it / and painted the kitchen of a rich man... / but he says he stayed here o'"). This is one of the poems that make up the series “Industrie di Guerra”, written between 1945 and 1948, in which the Neapolitan playwright listed some of the novelties brought by the North Americans: to the new menu of his countrymen he also dedicated “'A pòvera d' uovo”; he spoke of the insecticide with which the population was disinfected in “'O DDT”; and, in “'E ccascie' e muorte”, he was surprised by the body bags that replaced the coffins when transporting the remains of combatants.

[12] According to Francesco Durante, in 1943, Naples lost its identity, undergoing an “anthropological change” due to the arrival of the North Americans, who promoted the liquidation of the city: “the Americans saved it from the Germans, the war and the hunger, but in Naples, until then, the limit between licit and illicit, although vague, was clear: on one side, there was the thief; on the other, the honest man and anyone could understand who was one thing and who was another. There was a principle. Then something happened that looked like the multiplication of loaves and fishes, and with all that abundance brought by the Americans, being a thief became an advantage, and the new motto was 'ccà nisciuno è fesso' [here, nobody is a muggle]”. In fact, as noted in Naples, Naples, Naples, the action of camorra (local mafia), which had been contained by Fascism, spread again with the presence of Anglo-Americans in the city. The issue had previously been addressed by Francesco Rosi in Lucky luciano (Lucky Luciano, the Mafia Emperor.

[13] Remarkable facts, which gave rise to the play Millionaire Napoli!, which Eduardo De Filippo took to the city's stages as early as March 1945, focusing on wartime times, but mainly the post-war period, when a typical low-income family is on the verge of falling apart, as the mother only thinks of getting rich in the black market, the son has become a thief and the daughter is pregnant by an American soldier. The youngest child's illness, which she had to overcome a night of fever to survive, became a metaphor for the long dark night the city would have to leave if it wanted to get rid of its moral misery. In 1950, the author himself took to the screens Millionaire Naples, but the film, detouring in part to comedy, did not live up to the play.

[14] The term segnorina, corruption of Signorina (= miss), was used to designate women who had sexual relations with foreign soldiers. My mother used to say that American soldiers confused any girl with a segnorina and Military Police, when carrying out raids to contain the “ardor” of his compatriots, ended up arresting even women who were not prostituting themselves.

[15] Visentini's comment brings with it two more interesting issues: the quick emotional detachment and the positive feeling in relation to the war years, despite all the tribulations faced. As early as November 16, 1945, when writing about Rome, open city: (Rome, open city, 1944-45) in the Gazzetta di Parma, Attilio Bertolucci had spoken “of that time that already seems so far away”. Even in Naples, the people who had fought to free her no longer wanted to talk about those days, as Antonellis noted reproducing a text by journalist Vittorio Ricciuti written in 1963, when the Nanny Loy film was released: “During my research, I managed to identify some of those patriots, who don't even want to hear about that period. They claim that they do not remember what happened and how it happened chronologically. Deep down, those four memorable days became legend at the exact moment their protagonists were experiencing them: and it is well known that legend, over the years, always has vague and confused contours. It rained. Everyone agrees on that.”

[16] Another episode of Paisa that touches me closely is the last, the two supporters. During my childhood, I spent my holidays in Piedimonte del Calvario (district of Gorizia), where, at night, around the kitchen table at my aunt's house, I listened to reports of the struggle supporter, in which my father's elder brother perished. The Resistance was and continues to be the great myth of the left in Italy and countless novels by renowned authors, poetry, music, as well as a vast production of memoirs, have been dedicated to it, in addition to having been one of the great themes of Italian cinema, of neorealism on.

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