In March to Athens on 7 February 2012 at 21:11
Day 92-XVIII, from Qualiano to Naples, 12 km.
This morning police escorted us in small groups to the local bar to take a cappuccino. It’s one of those things that I like about this march. Nothing is normal. For us, every day is extraordinary. Yesterday evening before we went to sleep, the police officer on duty asked us if there was something he could do for us. Jokingly, we requested sweet pastries and cappuccino for breakfast. It turned out he took us seriously.
After breakfast we walk in group and we sing. Today is more special than usual. Today we reach Naples.
All along the route through the colourful outskirts people look us on, they join their hands to make the typical Italian sign that means ‘what the hell?’. We tell them about the march, about Athens, and they smile. It’s a smile of appreciation, and one that says ‘you’re completely out of your mind.’
We arrive at Capodimonte where we enjoy a first view of the city. We see the Vesuvius. Very timidly and very briefly, it snows. Last time that happened here was in 1986. It must be a good sign.
In a world where all countries and all cities tend to resemble each other, Naples is in a league of its own. Nothing compares to this city, nothing compares to her character. She’s the best, and she’s the worst. Like women, you can never fully understand Naples. You can only adore her, e basta.
We descend over the central Via Toledo, we are received by local indignados who accompany us to the landmark Piazza del Gesù, where we had decided to camp.
Immediately upon arrival, the tents are deployed, for the first time since Sperlonga. There is an army jeep with three soldiers guarding the square. They are bewildered, but they like us right from the start.
Only when police arrive there is a bit of tension. Obviously they didn’t expect us. They say we can’t camp here, and they do so in an authoritative way. It’s against the rules.
The rules! If we played by the rules, we wouldn’t have started a revolution. We reply in an equally authoritative tone. ‘Do whatever you want to do, but we’re here and we’re staying.’ In the background, the soldiers giggle.
Police march off. There’s heavy telephone traffic going on with headquarters. An hour later they return. We can officially stay.
The first popular assembly we held in the square was a big success. There are lots of locals passing by, and almost all of them stop to see what’s going on. Many of them join the assembly.
We introduced ourselves, we spoke about our dreams, and we received invitations to a popular dinner and to a hold an assembly in the university. But when we invited people to speak about the problems of Naples, no-one dared to dig into it, like we expected.
Still, we launched a challenge. For ourselves and for the Neapolitans. In a few days we intend to organise a thematical assembly on what I called ‘the business of trash’, and the role of the camorra.
I’m curious to see what’ll happen. First thing, we decided to install a night watch…