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Famous last words? PDF Print E-mail
Dec 11, 2010 at 08:52 PM

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"We can be certain that within only a few days Naples will be clean again". Thus spake Silvio Berlusconi a week ago on December 4th. But as of today, to the despair of Neapolitans who love their city, downtown Naples still looks a lot like a garbage tip.


For a short while, it looked like he might be right. But one week later, there are still at least 1250 tons of accumulated uncollected garbage piled up on the streets of a city that at this rate - with tourists and other visitors discouraged from coming - isn't going to have a very festive holiday season. 

On Thursday, December 9, merchants and the employees from stores, shops and restaurants along a five-kilometer stretch of the city's sea front closed for the day, lining the broad shore avenue with an apparently endless black mourning ribbon and, in the evening, dimming all lights.

About a dozen 10-ton compactor trucks, on loan from Turin and Florence, in the past week have helped to make a dent in the build-up that stood then at close to 2000 tons. But with inhabitants of the city producing some 1300 tons a day, getting rid of the overflow is proving no easy feat - primarily because it is often difficult to find a place to take it.

There are continuing problems in several suburbs where protesters continue to block access to landfills. There are plants incinerators that are not functioning at full capacity and thermo-electric plants that exist only on paper.

Berlusconi, as usual, appeared confident. But the fact is that even if it proves possible to clean up Naples' streets by Christmas, possibly by shipping garbage off to other Italian regions, or even abroad, the problem is nowhere near being resolved and will return.

All this hasn't helped the mood of the city's inhabitants who appear increasingly discouraged when interviewed on TV. And it probably didn't make them feel even better to learn that this year the annual "liveability" ranking published by the economic daily "Il Sole 24 Ore" (my former employer) says that the Italian province with the worst quality of life is......Naples. [see next story]

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