Andrea Covelli killed and buried in Pianura, a journey through the tribal roads: “Without our permission we cannot pass here”

Pianura is a mountain of disappointments and hopes, of Camorra and faith, of dumps and new or old bars, of broken promises that have made reality impossible. The sun falls hard, between via Padula and the district via Torricelli, and it mixes everything that happens in these streets: the smiles of humanity of good people and the gloomy look in the market squares, the big gestures of the clubs and the horrible crimes of partners. Like the one that fell victim Andrea Covelli, he was found dead and naked a few days ago. There is a memorial (with banners, photos and wishes) dedicated to him, among the public houses and unfinished buildings. “Andrea lives”, “justice for Andrea”, “give us back Andrea”. Almost all men under 40, here in the district, sport a bushy beard, seemingly wild but well-groomed, in the style of a jihadi or Neapolitan barbudo. Andrea himself wore it. A few minutes before we found the banners and fresh writings about Covelli, we had come across one of the “checkpoints” that the underworld system uses to control the territory: “You cannot pass through here – a man told us – Jatevenne and don’t “photograph anything”. And just like that the reporter and the photographer are forced to leave their work for a few minutes.


Let us begin here, at the point where the blunt force of violence would prevent us from continuing. There is a mural at the beginning of it via Torricelli. It is an abstract drawing of a little girl: it has a yellow birdcage instead of a trunk. The cage is open, as if he wants to escape from the facade of the popular building on which his figure has taken shape and form. We are getting closer to study it better. “You can’t stay here – the voice of a Neapolitan man in his fifties tells us – Go away, jam. Run, or you’ll be in trouble.” The tone is violent and calm: transgression, for him, costs nothing. The man threatening us doesn’t even know we are journalists. The photographer, Antonio Di Laurenzio, takes a few steps back, for the sake of opportunity. Andrea Covelli was probably also killed for “trespassing” reasons, because he is not welcome beyond the border line that separates via Napoli from via Torricelli. A feud on the pavement, Il Mattino wrote yesterday, confirming a tribal war between different gangs to conquer a stall or a basement in which they can engage. Let’s go back to the scooter. A stone’s throw from the “checkpoint”, in the church of the district, dozens of societies take place: well-dressed and smiling people, who seem to have slipped from another planet in relation to the neighboring district, from another plain. But it’s always the same. Neighborhood Gigi and Paolo were accidentally killed in their car in August 2000 while dreaming of their vacation in Greece. The Falanghina neighborhood and the anti-dumping riots. The deluded neighborhood for golf construction. The neighborhood where you can’t cross from one street to another because the Camorra forbids it. We can understand this from direct experience.

It’s pointless asking for interviews. No one puts their face in Pianura. No one puts their first and last name. Not even his parish priest Church of San Giorgio Martire of the sixteenth century in via Comunale: “I was told not to give interviews,” he sighs when asked to talk about the neighborhood these days. At 10 meters from the church, after the classic landfill has been avoided, there is an ongoing “urban regeneration” construction site. Not even the shadow of the workers, on the other hand you can see clothes hanging on the fences of the deserted construction site. A completely spontaneous combination of many themes of this Sahara-Napolitan summer, from bonus facades to urban regulations. But Pianura is another world, another Naples in the postcard Naples. This is clear, once again, on his pedestrian street corso Duca d’Aosta. The park dedicated to Falcone and Borsellino is a dunghill, closed and full of dumps from every entrance (including the one facing Vittorino da Feltre school).

On the balconies hundreds of his holy images Giustino Russolillo, here he is venerated as Padre Pio in Pietralcina. On the ground, garbage, simple fruit and seafood vendors, diesel oil silos. Lots of cars and scooters popping up from every side street. A van stands out with two posters covering the rear windows: Maradona and Jesus, forever side by side in this ephemeral Neapolitan eternity. And ‘Giggione’, a boy who recently died of an illness, also ‘barbudos’, a member of the Fedayn, whose mural stands out in via Padula. Mrs. Marissa says: “There is no separate collection – she says – we pay taxes and they don’t give us proper containers. Moisture is often lacking. Everyone is throwing everything everywhere.” Enzo has instead a bar: “We don’t know why these things happen here – he sighs – But the period is very difficult, even if you are busy with your work. Sorry: The Plains is full of residents, mostly decent people. There are no spaces for young people: do more.’

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