Mural of San Gennaro - Naples

Along many streets bordering Forcella, one of Naples’s most infamous neighborhoods, ghoulish looking men with solarium super tans dressed in knock-off designer clothes walk up and down unhurried, capturing glimpses of the passerby while typing on their smartphones what their stealthy eyes see. Policemen are nowhere close. In via Duomo, at the neighborhood’s entrance, a stunning hyperreal mural of San Gennaro greets the onlookers. Beloved and worshiped for the seasonal miracles of his blood liquefaction, the saint is Naples’s patron and a cornerstone of the city’s saint-centered polytheism. The San Gennaro depicted in the mural is a young Mediterranean doe-eyed stud; scandalmongers insist that he closely resembles Nunzio Giuliano, a repentant member of the mafia family that controls the neighborhood, shot dead on a street a few years ago. However, Jorit Agosh, the artist that made the mural pro bono, revealed that his model was a local blue-collar worker. Perhaps the doubt as to whether the mural is a sponsored canonization of a famiglia or a piece of public art with a tinge of social activism just exacerbates the contrasts between its objective beauty and its location among run-down housing projects that hide unspoken riches, and ultimately stirs in the polite traveler an eerie feeling of being overcome by a co-morbid Stendhal-Stockholm syndrome that makes the place unforgettable. AP

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