Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Apr. 2003, rev. Mar. 2012

Monuments to

The Four Days of Naples & Salvo d'Acquisto

In a city full of baroque and neo-classical statuary, two rather unusual pieces of sculpture stand out. One is at the west end of the Villa Comunale in the center of Piazza della Repubblica near the Mergellina section of town. It is the "Monument to the Scugnizzo" (photo, left). In the so-called "Quattro Giornate di Napoli" (Four Days of Naples), a popular uprising in September 1943 against German forces in Naples saw Neapolitan scugnizzi (street kids) engaged in harrying tactics against the hard-pressed Wehrmacht, the German army, already in disarray in the face of the Anglo-American invasion at Salerno. It is part of Neapolitan lore that such armed civilian resistance helped drive the Germans from the city. The monument consists of sculpted monoliths raised on a platform; each slab contains intense detail of humans involved in war. The monument is the work of Marino Mazzacurati and was set up in 1963.

[Also see a New York Times account of the episode in question.] [Also this link.]


added June 9, 2019 
 What is a Myth?
Zeus is a myth. Snow White is a fairy tale. There's a difference.


I am trying to clear up some of my own careless usage of such terms as 'lore' (in the passage above this box) and 'myth', and 'mythology' in what I have written about The Four Days of Naples here and in other entries. There is a common use of myth that equates it with fairy-tale, as in "Aw, that's just a myth!" to mean fiction, it never happened. If I have left the impression that that was what I meant, it was sloppy and careless on my part. I meant the primary definition of "myth" as it is used in anthropology -- a body of material that may incorporate historical basis and then involves real events, half-truths, legends-- in short, everything that has to do with the subject. Such myths may serve to explore phenomena of nature, cultural or religious institutions, even the origin of life. They tend to deal with the ancient world but may also have explanatory power when trying to figure out relatively current events such as the episodes in The Four Days of Naples. What really happened? Who was involved? What accounts that we have, after the fact, are factual? To what extent are they embellished? What, if anything, has been left out in order, perhaps, to fit a preconceived notion of "history that should have happened" -- but didn't? How do we know? What are our sources? All of that. So, I am pretty sure that Snow White -- though it sheds light on human nature and serves to instruct children (as do all fairy tales) is not a myth -- it's a fairy tale, a fable. Zeus, on the other hand, is a classical myth, as are the tales of The Illiad and The Odyssey. I know that Greece exists. (I looked it up!) But I don't believe that Zeus lives (or ever lived) on Mount Olympus. As with religious mythology, contention arises among those who have various opinions on why this is a fact and that is not. That contention is with us forever. So if I happen to say  "part of the lore of Naples" or refer to the "myth" or "mythology" of the The Four Days of Naples, I mean everything about those events that might help us to explore and understand them.


Also, there is a large metal-wrought memorial on via Toledo (via Roma) at Piazza Carit√†, at the north end of the so-called  "Spanish Quarters". The monument is the work of Lidia Cottone and was erected in 1971. It is dedicated to the memory of Salvatore D'Acquisto, a 23-year-old Carabiniere heroically involved in an incident in September, 1943.

One German soldier was killed and two were seriously injured when a grenade exploded in a crate of abandoned munitions they were inspecting. The German commander was convinced, however, that his men had been killed by a booby trap set by the Italian resistance. He went to the nearby Carabiniere station of Torrimpietra near Torre di Palidoro and demanded of the young officer-in-charge, D'Acquisto, that he find those responsible. D'Acquisto argued in vain that the incident had been accidental, at which point the German commander rounded up 22 Italian civilians to execute in reprisal for the "ambush". At that point, D'Acquisto lied and took personal responsibility for the incident. He was summarily executed by firing squad, thereby sacrificing his life for and saving the lives of the civilian hostages.



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