IAP 206: Simmo 'e Napule, Paisà! Six Volumes, Eight Scholars, 2,322 Pages... A History of Napoli


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Napoli… the great urban amphitheater spreading out across its picturesque bay. Anchored by the steaming hulk of Vesuvius and pushed up to the heavens from the shimmering Mediterranean Sea, it's a city so vibrant, so full of history that the quest to tell its story inspired six volumes, eight scholars, 2,322 pages, 758 illustrations, 651 readings, and countless appendices, maps, and indexes.

And for Ron Musto, telling its story has been a 30-year labor of love. On this week’s episode, Musto, the editor of A Documentary History of Naples, published by Italica Press, joins us to discuss Naples, its history, and the passionate effort behind this unprecedented compendium of Neapolitan history.

First conceived while Musto and co-editor Eileen Gardiner were in residence at the American Academy in Rome in 1994, this series brings together leading scholars to present the first comprehensive collection of primary-source materials, in English translation, on the structures, history, arts, and culture of this Mediterranean capitol, which Musto nicknamed “The Brooklyn of Europe.”

We discover how this series tries to introduce students, researchers, and Italian Americans to one of the most important Italian, European, and world capitals; how it helps dispel long-standing prejudices against the Italian South shared widely not only in the English-speaking world but in Italy itself; and how it brings modern-day attention to a city that is rapidly being rediscovered as one of the world’s most interesting centers of culture, food, music, art, architecture, and new urbanism.

We also reflect on how uncovering the story of Naples shows us the deep roots of so many cultural patterns in language, family tradition, food, and community and how they could bolster a sense of pride and continuing tradition among Italian Americans. And we discuss how this history could teach valuable lessons to the children of Southern Italy by reminding us that they shared so much in common with people of various backgrounds and national origins and with their struggles and achievements.

Join us as we take a trip through the history of Naples in this very special episode! And, if you’re interested in purchasing one or all of the volumes of A Documentary History of Naples, be sure to visit Italica Press’s website and mention the Italian American Podcast for a special offer!

This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.

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