Strategic Project for Bagnoli Naples sealed at Palazzo Chigi

Published Friday August 4 in the Italian Insider.


palazzo chigi

Strategic Project for Bagnoli Naples sealed at Palazzo Chigi

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – Time for celebration has come as stakeholders finally come together before Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni today to seal the requalification plan for Bagnoli, Naples.

In a closed door roundtable on Friday, the government held its first central government control room meeting established by the President of the Council of Ministers in order to proceed with the environmental requalification and productive relaunch of former Italsider.

Prime Minister Gentiloni, Minister of the Environment Gianluca Galletti, Vice Minister of Economic Development, Teresa Bellanova, Governor of Campania Vincenzo De Luca, Mayor of Naples Luigi De Magistris and the Government Commissioner Salvo Nastasi presided the meeting.

Preliminarily signed July 19 in Naples by Minister De Vincenti, Governor de Luca and Mayor de Magistris, the attempts at setting insurmountable obstacles for any kind of institutional convergence on the northern area of the metropolis seem to have been put to rest for good.

“Today’s meeting is an extremely important step for a real strategic project such as the reclamation and regeneration of Bagnoli. I considered it important to seal this milestone in a symbolic meeting here at Palazzo Chigi,” stated Gentiloni today. “We are in the midst of a huge urban regeneration operation that is truly impressive for the dimensions of the area which aims first and foremost at protecting the health of its citizens together with its environmental recuperation. As it has done in the last years, the government continues to take on its responsibilities. We have come this far thanks to the work done within this control room and the realization of the project will now depend greatly on the continuous harmony among institutions. Competitiveness and viability of our urban areas depend on the realisation of great projects such as this.”

“Today marks an important day,” commented De Magistris just after the meeting. “There was an institutional atmosphere during the conversation and reciprocal respect in the strategic development for the city, the Campania Region and the entire nation. It is the best agreement possible that, up until just a few months ago, seemed impossible. We are very satisfied because all the requests of the city were perceived. Compared to how things started, this is truly a whole other ball game,” the mayor stated with complete satisfaction.

Once a huge industrial area called ‘Italsider’, the northern Naples neighbourhood has long been the object of failed projects and urban transformation.

With the enormous zone closed for good since 1992, companies like Bagnoli Futura and others have made unsuccessful attempts at converting the area without success.

Amidst the accolades for the new requalification project now underway with the mayor’s blessing, locals who fear it as just another attempt to give a euphemistic name to what is actually a process of real estate speculation will just have to wait and see.





Approved life annuity law changes nothing for Campania

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.


Approved life annuity law changes nothing for Campania

By Florence Brock

Naples – After finally arriving at a bipartisan agreement in both houses of legislative government last week, the law reducing politician life annuities will stay unchanged in the Campania Region.

As decided upon by the regional council in the last few days, Campania approved an amendment, giving office holders the option of giving up accumulated regional life annuities on a “volunteer basis”.

After an extenuating battle in parliament forcing politicians to abide by a contribution system similar to the one common workers currently have, Governor Vincenzo De Luca’s ‘volunteer’ program appears not to have grasped the spirit of the new legal decree.

Who is going to stand up and set a good example in Campania? Considering some office holders throughout the territory have already accumulated up to three different annuities, there would ample room to start setting an unexplored trend.

Out of the 246 annuities paid per month with taxpayer funds, there are roughly 30 former Italian parliament and Euro-parliament members who accumulate their annuities to former council member work. Some big names at the local and national level are Nicola Mancino, Antonio Bassolino and Carmelo Conte. At 63, Giuseppe Scalera equally holds a three-of-a-kind annuities: one as former Ulivo Parliament member, one as former Forza Italia Senator and one as former Regional Council member. Giovanni Russo, Antonio Mazzone, Antonio Rastrelli and Ortenzio Zecchino also pocket triple annuities.

Earning well over 10,000 Euros per month from multiple annuities, these and other accrued annuity holders could decide now is the time to lead their constituencies, demonstrating how sober they can be during such a hard national economic period.

Empowered with legal autonomy, regions such as Tuscany have already decided to cancel double annuities.

In the meantime Emilia-Romagna has contested another law passed in May concerning annuities. Led by former Democratica Sinistra member Ferruccio Giovanelli, political antagonists to the decree have decided to bring their case before the Administrative court.

“We believe the law is illegitimate in some of its parts and wrong in two specific points,” explains the Democratica Sinistra member with a petition already signed by 50 former regional council members. “Increasing retirement age at 67, even though it has been set at 65 for parliament members and council members in other regions, and the incompatibility of double annuities; the only other region that has introduced it so far is Tuscany and it has already been subjected to trial in the Administrative courts where it has, in turn, been sent it to the Constitutional Courts for legitimacy,” he states ready for legal action.

“If a politician has served two terms for the region and one in parliament, with this regional law, he/she loses the more consistent annuity because, by law, one cannot renounce to the parliament annuity,” he goes on to defend his group’s opposition.

Author of the reform and Democratic Party council member Manuela Rontini indiscriminately stands by the new law. “Ours is a good sense law that falls in the grooves of sober tradition that has always characterised the Emilia-Romagna Region. We first reduced council member benefits, eliminated severance pay and annulled council group expenses. After acting upon ourselves, we asked those before us to contribute to the credibility and authority of politics,” she concludes.

In the meantime, Campania council member Francesco Borrelli continues his adamant regional fight against political privileges. With a bill presented by him to calculate regional annuities based on the contribution model, the Verdi Party member wants to change things in the southern region. Were it to pass, stakeholders would be forced to renounce to high compensations. “Life annuities are not acquired rights; they are unacceptable privileges that must be axed once and for all,” he insists.

Vowing to forge on with his battle during upcoming budget approval sessions, Democratic Party majority council has also stated they will return to the matter after the summer adjournment and discuss board positions.

The Sun risks lawsuit on peril ranking

published earlier this morning in the Italian Insider.

Il Sun toglie Napoli da lista 10 città più pericolose

The Sun risks lawsuit on peril ranking

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – After almost two weeks of tension and rebuttal surrounding The Sun and its classification of the eleven most dangerous corners of the Earth, it has removed Naples, Italy off its compiled list.

While the Mayor told spectators on Sky News in an interview last week that, considering the news source, The Sun black list did not produce any damage to the city, reaction to the modified index has nonetheless been harsh.

“Damage to the city procured by a newspaper with approximately eight million readers is something to take into consideration. With public window ‘Defend the City of Naples’ we have already interrogated the City Attorney about eventual legal action. In the meantime, we have taken note of the British periodical’s apology,” states Flavia Sorrentino, head of Difendi la Città in an official statement after the paper backtrack.

Originally published July 11, the tabloid article updated its list over the weekend, exonerating the southern Italian city from its peril chart. Reasons that led up to the change in rank are still unknown.

The chart referred to city centres identified as the highest risk locations in the eleven different geographic areas of the world.

Ranking criteria included: terrorism, drugs, gang homicides connected to criminals and mafias, war, racial disorder and human rights violation. Results cited Naples as the most dangerous city in Western Europe, taking a seat near places such as Mogadishu (in Somalia, ranked as the worst in Africa) or even Raqqa (the current ISIS capital in Syria, indicated as the place of greatest danger in the Middle East).

Including the southern urban metropolis had provoked much controversy.

“It’s a wrong and superficial verdict,” commented Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris to ANSA just after the British daily hit the newsstands. “It’s a conclusion come to someone who obviously has never spent a day of his/her life in Naples- a place full of problems but not positioned where The Sun has ranked it. It’s very serious that people continue narrating Naples in an unhistorical way and above all far from the way things really are in the city today,” he went on to assert.

“Heatstroke,” was the Italian Ambassador in London Pasquale Terracciano’s ironic reaction to the classification.  “Naples cannot be found on any official list among the most dangerous cities in the world,” read the Italian Embassy profile shortly after dispute arose. “Evidently, the newsroom confused reality with fiction,” concluded the post that obtained more than 60 thousand visualisations, over 300,000 shares, likes and a plethora of comments in support of the official diplomatic position on the matter.

The issue was equally met with humour by some locals. Famous artisan Marco Ferrigno, from the world renowned San Gregorio Armeno neighbourhood, immediately created a pastoral figure depicting Mayor de Magistris with a bulletproof vest for collectors to add to their nativity scenes.

EASTWEST Forum – Naples



By Florence Brock

Naples – A thought-provoking forum on the digital world was held earlier this week at the University Federico II in its new didactic pole located in San Giovanni a Teduccio, Naples.

A long morning marathon entitled Digital Technologies took place on the impressive new university campus grounds, home to Apple IOS Academy.

Broken up into three main themes moderated by political journalist Myrta Merlino of LA7 TV, the EASTWEST Forum touched on: Access to the Internet as a human right; Algorithms and democracy; Digitalization: New business models and human capital.

With an introduction delivered by Director General of DG Connect Roberto Viola of the European Commission, the rotating panel members took turns describing Italy’s stance in an advanced fast-paced web world.

There were two common denominators everyone appeared to agree upon: Firstly, 40% of Italy is still digitally illiterate. Italy needs to make progress if it wants to get up to speed and really compete with the modern, money making on line world. Secondly, this new technological world needs regulation for Europe.

While guest speakers such as President of the Budget Committee of the Italian House of Representatives Francesco Boccia eloquently expressed the need for guidelines to protect Italy from becoming too vulnerable to colossal international groups making their fortunes on line, there were two captivating speakers who conveyed incisive messages at the institutionally oriented forum.


Cutting to the quick of the real issues plaguing Internet users, Digital Policy Fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Stefan Soesanto, did not mince words with panel members and the audience: “ Most young people don’t really agree about a lot that has been said about Internet so far here.



There are four basic pillars to Internet:

  1. If you’re looking for stability, it’s not a medium for you
  2. If you’re looking for security, it’s not for you
  3. If you’re looking for the truth, it’s not for you
  4. If you’re looking for control, it’s not for you…not even in what you consider to be your online space

The policy expert could not have spelled things out more plainly.

He went on to add that for the Internet, governance is a direct contradiction in terms and there is no other bottom line.

Approaching the topic of sub security, Soesanto claims cyber war really does not exist yet, although society is close. “We have not seen a pinch of it because no one has been killed yet,” he states. Defined as data destruction and people being physically hurt, there have only been two examples of cyber warfare thus far: Snuck theft and a steel company in Germany.

“Simple things matter, such as creating a secure password,” he affirms, giving the forum participants insight on one of the most important means when dealing with the Internet. “Educating users is crucial and we are currently doing a very bad job of it.”

“Things will get worse and not better,” he concludes. “We need to deal with that. Connecting everyone with everyone will NOT lead you your desired result.”

While agreeing with the Digital expert, former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi emphasizes his previous comparison of the new on line world to an enormous coffee bar. “The cyber world is a theme that we worry a lot about. It breaks all barriers: get gets into bank systems, electoral campaigns …etc,” he admonishes.


During the last forum session on digitalization, Reuben Abraham added the real flavour to the discussion, reminding everyone that the protagonists of the morning conversation revolved around the USA and Europe. The CEO and Senior Fellow of the IDFC Institute in Mumbai, India made it clear that 6 out of the 7 parts of the populated world had been omitted from the day talks(apart from briefly citing Alibaba).

The Indian think tank went on to claim that huge non-American and non-European colossal companies serving China and India economically towering over Amazon, Google, Uber and others would soon take over digitalization around the globe. “The world is in the process of creating a new set of rules that do not fall under your western ones,” he announces as the mentions the recently failed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement strongly desired by the USA. He further explains: “India’s embracement of the Chinese Free Trade Agreement Network will further strengthen the Chinese because they will be playing with their set of rules. Since the USA tried to oust China with TTP, now it’s China’s turn,” he says matter-of-factly.

With European countries such as Germany already wanting to jump on the bandwagon now that USA has angered Germans after taking back their signed promise sealed on climate in Paris, the new world has started leaning on a different axis.

“China is the biggest Internet nation; it surely takes it the most seriously, giving it the highest political priority because they see it as potential,” the Indian professional goes on to say.

“Just look at their PSV2 (known as OLA in India). It is an information/communication fusion similar to when Zuckerberg wanted to sync the web with Whatsapp,” he specifies about how the future while mean not leaving a given platform. “OLA is an entire ID program in a thumbprint, so you have digital security…no more paper and there is an automatic ATM. It already involves millions and millions of citizens in India.” He informs.

“These realities are coming…whether you westerners are ready or not and we are going to hit you big,” he thunders on the stage, giving a small fraction of a self-centred world something to really think about!

Is Naples ‘a new cultural machine?’

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.


Univeristy Naples FEderico

Is Naples a ‘new cultural machine?’

By Florence Brock


NAPLES – “A new cultural machine,” were the words Former Prime Minister Romano Prodi used to describe University Federico II at the EASTWEST FORUM – Digital Challenges held in Naples when he answered questions from the press.

IMG_4375“This structure is wonderful, but, above all, it is important,” asserts the former President of European Union in reference to the new didactic pole built in San Giovanni a Teduccio that includes Europe’s first Apple IOS Academy.

“First of all, it helps to produce a sophisticated category of professionals like the engineers this nation much needs. There are top-notch qualified professionals here; it was an act of intelligence both because students now have access to additional formation and because it revitalizes the area,” he explains to the Italian Insider microphone about the investment made at the former Cirio factory that was considered an eyesore for the locals since it had left much of the town out of a job.

“It has been said that this marvellous intellectual production is our greatest exportation asset. Yet, we can hardly keep on exporting engineers we preciously need here,” he continues with a chuckle, adding: “We have to become really attractive again and University Federico II is helping to pave the way by becoming a focal point for education; it is a new cultural machine.”

When asked about the attempted revitalization of the other important area of Bagnoli located on the north side of the city, Prodi does not mince words: “Bagnoli is a thorn in my side. I spent years hoping the area would shine again.” With a smile, he specifies: “I hoped I was not going to be asked that question because it would have meant Bagnoli had since resurged. When Italsider closed in the early 90’s, I thought that was the most beautiful resource the city could possibly take advantage of.”

While the father of the Ulivo Party and founding member of the Democratic Party wags his finger, making it clear first thing in the morning that he would not in any way answer questions about the Italian political disarray, he cannot help but address an issue that has openly been tearing at southern Italy’s heart. Not denying the truth in a comment where the South has presumably slipped away from the PD agenda in the last couple of years, he promptly says. “I do not want to get into the justice of political divisions, but I will say that this is THE biggest Italian problem today.”

“We’ve just mentioned Bagnoli as being valuable. We have been blessed with such beauty and such potential in this country and it’s suffocated, just suffocated,” he continues, indicating the inability of making the best of resources, shaking his head in disappointment.

Called to the stage by Forum moderator and political journalist Myrta Merlino, Prodi introduced the opening debate “Access to the Internet as a human right”. In a coherent speech, he said he was sorry that Italy is out of digital loop, with very slow national advancement in the fast-paced digital world.

“The internet has given way to a web of imbeciles,” quotes Merlino, provoking the politician as she asks for a comment to Italian writer Umberto Eco’s words. While Prodi emphasizes that Internet technology is a massive coffee bar that incorporates all types of customers, he equally warns against the tendency of trying to simplify things too much, risking distortion.

“I’m no longer able to get into complicated analysis anymore. Today, a 240-page programme becomes a reason for criticism, but would it really be better to convey it in a message that’s one hundred and forty letters long?” Who knows if his statement refers to someone in particular? Someone who seems to often prefer social platforms (some even with letter limits) in order to communicate nowadays?

Renzi’s migrant comments cause turmoil for PD

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.


Renzi’s migrant comments cause turmoil for PD

By Florence Brock


NAPLES – With just days remaining before former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s new book ‘Avanti – perché l’Italia non si ferma’ (Forward – because Italy doesn’t stop), published by Fetrinelli, hits the bookshelves, criticism has already caused the Democratic Party Secretary substantial turmoil.

Things started to unsettle for the PD Secretary when he gave his Facebook readers a small excerpt on immigration from his integral book preview published online in the new party newspaper Democratica.

In a post Friday, Renzi referred some of his thoughts soon to be available in bookshops.



“I’d like for us to be free from guilt. We have no moral duty to welcome all the people in Italy who are worse off than us in the world. If that happened, there would be a kind of ethic, political, social and even lead to economic disaster,” he writes in bold. In large capital bold font, he goes on to write: “We do not have the moral duty to welcome them, let’s repeat that to ourselves. But, we do have the moral duty to help them. And really, the moral duty is to do so back where they come from.”

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni was quick to defend his party secretary. Between meetings at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, he stated: “Renzi’s words are reasonable,” while simultaneously defining the work Europe has done so far on the plaguing issue “insufficient”.

The PD Secretary’s hasty move to cancel the potentially detrimental post was not fast enough to avoid the myriad of comments and criticism from opposition groups and public figures around the nation.

Right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini wasted no time in commenting on the unprecedented Democratic Party view. On his own Facebook page, he made fun of Renzi by re-publishing the cancelled post in a Lega Nord version, photo-shopping his party logo on top of PD logo and adding an image of Renzi placing his hands in his hair with the statement “choose the original,” demonstrating that Renzi is a copy-cat of what the right-wing party has been saying all along.

Even fellow PD member and former Prime Minister Enrico Letta distanced himself from Renzi’s view. “Those are wrong words which I do not stand by and that do not help us face such a complex problem,” he asserted while in Geneva during a conference.

The Five-Star Movement also immediately jumped on the bandwagon against the democratic novelty. “PD calls the Five-Star Movement proposals fascist and then a Minister from their party re-proposing them identically while another sustains the exact contrary. The Italian population ends up paying the price for their ineptness”, the House Vice- President commented on the social media episode.

Just prior to the uproar, former Foreign Minister Emma Bonino had released an interview to the Giornale of Brescia where she conveyed that Italy found itself in such a dramatic situation due to an agreement signed by Renzi and his government in which the Dublin agreement was thoroughly breeched.

Renzi rebutted that Dublin was to blame because Italy had signed papers stating all Europe would have carried their fair share of the weight concerning immigrants and it was never put into practice.

“Renzi must have been distracted. Overriding the Dublin accord, the Triton agreement his government signed has allowed for the total flow of immigrants to enter Italian ports. It has never been a secret. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about: the Triton agreement foresees that Italy is to coordinate all the operations of those who disembark in Italy,” she emphasized.

Probably the harshest words however have come from Roberto Saviano, Neapoiltan author of Gomorrah. In a biting Facebook post, the southern Italian writer attacks Renzi, calling him a hypocrite. “Renzi says Italy has no moral duty to ‘welcome’ immigrants but ‘help’ them back home” and yet he knows all too well that Italy does the exact opposite because, while it does indeed help those who flee their nation, they equally help those to kill back home. Proof? Exportation of Italian weapons,” accuses the southern Italian writer.

The criminal underworld expert goes on to list precise numbers of weapons sold, demonstrating how the Democratic government in Italy under Renzi has tripled its sale on arms.

“I assure you that I will continue keeping the weapon business at heart as those of you continue producing weapons to sell to countries at war, stopping locals from creating acceptable life conditions for those you call ‘blacks back home’. Uncanny, it is precisely under the Renzi government that Italy has sold weapons ‘in violation of the law’ that prohibits the exportation and sale towards those countries that are ‘responsible for severe violation to human rights’. And now he would like ‘to help them back where they come from’ in ‘a hypocritical’ way,” he sentences.

Renzi has his finger pointed at many around him in his new book ‘Avanti’ due out Wednesday and he may have his hands full with other of the nine subjects he has decided to approach.


Tourists flee forest blaze around Vesuvius volcano

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

Incendi: vasto incendio Sul Vesuvio, evacuati alcuni alloggi


Tourists flee forest blaze around Vesuvius volcano

by Florence Brock


NAPLES – Once again the panoramic view for thousands of tourists who flock to this southern Mediterranean city has been disturbed by smoke visible from a distance of more than 30 km (20 miles). At the feet of the Vesuvius volcano, flames and smoke have caused panic and rage once again, as suspected foul play surrounds yet another fire that has been doubling over the area near Pompeii over the last couple of days.  The blaze resumed Wednesday in “La Siesta” located in Herculaneum at the base of the active volcano causing local authorities this time to evacuate residents in the area and denying tourists access to the suggestive mountainous formation responsible for the perfectly preserved Pompeii life from 2,000 years ago.  Hectares of the National park have been destroyed, hotels and residences evacuated and tourists have been escaping the area while firemen, military police and civil defence volunteers race against time trying to tame the flames.  While the area is hit in the face with devastating economic damage during their long-awaited high season, the flames seem attributable to man’s doing.  Although authorities initially seemed to believe the latest flames surged given high temperatures and wind that helped flare up the abundance of trash and abandoned waste present on the soil, the fire now seems too vast. Separated in several acute hotspots, each far from the one another, make it hard to imagine that the latest fires can be due to unfortunate circumstances.  Early in the morning, authorities were already hard at work trying to reclaim the ground and extinguish the remaining hotspots.  Firemen, Forestry officials and representatives from the Campania Region have been working with the Territorial Military Forestry for the Vesuvius National Park and lend a significant hand.  Civil defence equally sent out two Canadair fire-fighting planes, one from Rome and the other from Lamezia Terme, shuttling back and forth for hours to blast gallons of water into the fire and circumscribe the flames.  Asphyxiating air from intense smoke billowed from Torre del Greco all the way to Portici. A surreal view from the metropolis seafront led many to wonder whether the calm volcano was starting to act up again, as the smoke rapidly reached 1000 metres above sea level, risking to cut the mount in two parts and trap those who where at the peak.  After examination of the present emergency plaguing the area in the last hours, mayor of Herculaneum Ciro Buonajuto announced yesterday that the army is coming to preside over Vesuvius.