January 08, 2008

Trash Talk

Jesus, has anyone else been following this? Naples is officially overflowing with garbage (and for Naples, believe me, that is saying something). The city's landfills are all, um, full, and so the authorities have just stopped collecting any trash. Now there are an estimated 100,000 tonnes of the stuff just lying around the streets, attracting packs of wild animals and narrowing many of the roads down to just one tiny lane in the middle (and again, for Naples that is saying something).

Meanwhile the Neapolitans are rioting (understandably), attacking police and lynching effigies of the mayor. Oh, and they're just setting fire to their trash heaps in an attempt to get rid of them. Prodi (the Italian prime minister) has kindly sent the army in, but mostly as glorified garbage men.

Now, look, as you may have guessed from my snarky parentheses up there, I don't hold a very high opinion of Naples. But this seems pretty appalling by any standards. I mean, wild animals roaming in between piles of burning trash? It's straight out of some second-rate dystopian sci-fi novel. Except that it's actually happening, in Europe, and nobody seems to really know what to do about it (other than, I guess, get the hell out of Naples).

Not that I really know what to do about it either. So rather than propose any kind of useful solution, I will instead share a couple of ironic quotes from the Naples Tourism website:
Senza alcun dubbio Napoli è diventata negli ultimi anni una meta privilegiata per tanti turisti italiani e stranieri che amano trascorrere le proprie vacanze nelle grandi città d'arte.
(In recent years, Naples has, without a doubt, become a favourite destination for tourists, from Italy and abroad, who enjoy spending their vacations in the cultural capitals of the world.)
A differenza di altre città… Napoli si caratterizza per il suo proverbiale e scenografico "vissuto quotidiano"
(Unlike other cities, Naples is characterised by its renowned and scenic "everyday life".)
il turista che sceglie Napoli come destinazione delle proprie vacanze deve essere adeguatamente accolto ed informato su tutto ciò che è indispensabile sapere per vivere e conoscere la città.
(The tourist who chooses Naples as his or her holiday destination needs to be adequately informed on all the essential knowledge for living in and getting to know the city.)
Benvenuti a Napoli quindi… dal quale potrete ogni giorno dirigervi verso un Museo, una strada, una Piazza, un Monumento, o passeggiare lungo il più grande centro antico d'Europa, vero e proprio Museo a cielo aperto, dichiarato dall'UNESCO patrimonio dell'Umanità.
(Welcome, then, to Naples, where every day you can find yourself at a museum, a street, a square, or a monument; or where you can stroll leisurely through the largest historic town centre in Europe — a veritable open-air museum, and one of UNESCO's designated World Heritage sites.)

Man, if this is how we treat our world heritage sites, I'm a little terrified to see where the rest of the planet is going.

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