With wonderful, Southern Italian drama, this last weekend even the Church added a few recyclable bottles to the pile while imploring all good Christians to start recycling, for the good of all the residents. Except these bottles were full of the tears of San Gennaro, the patron Saint of Naples. Although his remains are pulled out each year, sometimes San Gennaro is called in to do overtime; in particular, during “catastrophic events”, such as the one encompassing Naples right now.
And so, in a very modern update (or, a very medieval one, depending on your point of view), one can now add ‘garbage’ to the list of miracles to be performed by this great saint, along with War, pestilence, earthquakes and general miserableness, usually famine. It’s too bad that during the latter, most people’s miracle appeared in the shape of a large ship, taking them to America. But with Ellis Island a tourist destination and the borders pretty much closed to proper immigrants, well, neapolitans can’t really count on that option today.
So here we are, asking San Gennaro to work on that last catastrophe in reverse; given this is an extreme case of over-abundance – of garbage, that is. And that miracle needs to take effect by January 30th, when the European Union starts to enact sanctions which could cost the country up to 700,000 euro (over $1M) per day.
- While the Army has cleared up most of central Naples, they’ve seem to run out of places to even store the stuff for safe-keeping until it can be processed elsewhere. Once again, the residents, expecting the stuff to miraculously disappear in thin air, are fighting even access to these storage places.
- The Fire Brigades are putting out fires at the rate of about 1 every 15 mins.
- De Gennaro’s idea to reopen, albeit temporarily, the dumps is virtually out of the question, given the residents’ blocking of the roads with trucks, buses, and themselves.
- After procuring ‘okays’ and even handshakes from other regions to take the garbage, including Sardinia and Lombardy, the fallout was such that they changed their minds no sooner did they step back into their pristine regions. (my solution: in the interest of 'loose lips sinking ships', blacking out the press until the garbage has been processed).
- Meanwhile, while everyone agrees that the region (and all of Italy for that matter) need these termovalorizzatori, whereby they turn the garbage into energy, they will take 3 years to build.
With all this resistance, what will they do until then? (and with whose contracts, and at what price for the corruption-laced building contracts there). Of course, getting them to recycle in the first place should have been put in place by the city and regional govts. in the first place, but, it's still an option. Of course, those wily Neapolitans have even thought of dumping it all into Vesuvius, and hope that the gods don't get angry and spit out the toxins all the same. Who knows if this isn't the real reason behind Pompeii's demise??
In any case, the appropriately named De Gennaro, the ‘Garbage Czar’, certainly needs his own miracle to get this resolved.