Journey through the alleys and squares: from the flowers in front of Diego’s famous mural to the badges on the bartenders’ shirts, everything is ready. And tourists adjust
April 30 – Naples
Look, Diego, look how beautiful. The party starts with you, because it all began with you. The triumphal procession could start around 5 pm today, but yesterday the thanksgiving procession was born spontaneously. Everyone lined up to greet Maradona, a pagan rite carried out with religious devotion, as if Diego were still the protagonist of this Napoli championship, the first without his presence. It is drizzling in the middle of the afternoon, but in the Spanish Quarters the drops of water do not touch the ground because there is no physical space between one person and another, between one faithful and another. It’s the sweetest wait because the result, whether it’s today or not, is now guaranteed. And therefore the classic liturgy of the fan changes and also the way in which the passage of time is marked up to the moment in which everything must be accomplished. On the other hand, it is the most beautiful prize for those who have been able to give meaning to the word waiting for 33 years, without ever letting an infinite passion fade. In via Emanuele De Deo, the alley that leads from via Toledo to what is known to all as Largo Diego Armando Maradona, you simply cannot pass. They are about two hundred meters uphill which become a very slow, cheerful, colorful and very noisy pilgrimage. One choir after another, one hymn after another: these are the most beautiful hours, those that anticipate the explosion of the great party in which the chaos will perhaps prevent us from grasping some aspects of Neapolitan happiness.
The rose and the colors
A gentleman, about sixty years old, approaches the mural dedicated to Diego. On the floor, near the painted wall, there is a carpet of scarves and T-shirts from many teams, tributes from fans of all latitudes to the king of football. On that carpet, the gentleman with white hair and wet eyes shyly places a rose. There are other flowers, there are pictures of the dead, there is a visual explanation of what Maradona represents for these people. That mural is the Sistine Chapel of Napoli fans and anyone who carries Diego and his poetic football in their hearts. It was built in 1990, after the second championship, and is a place of worship par excellence. Much more than the artistic mural, but out of the way, designed by street artist Jorit in San Giovanni a Teduccio, in Piazzetta Maradona: yesterday there was work in progress there, they were reviving the colors of the work and in particular the writing “Human Dios ”. Even the murals make themselves beautiful for the celebration of the Scudetto, as do every street, every alley, every square: white, blue and the tricolor decorate the entire city and in Spaccanapoli they even darken the sky because the colored stripes create a fascinating canopy to the pedestrian streets. Children buy Osimhen masks, adults stop in via San Biagio dei Librai, at the Nilo bar, to admire Maradona’s hair, which legend has it was taken from the seat of the plane on which Diego had traveled next to the owner of the venue.
A football story
Tourists, Italian or foreign, who know about football are not surprised by the exuberance of those who celebrate the triumph. Those who are ignorant of the magnitude of the event are quickly drawn into the festive atmosphere. The waiters of Gambrinus, the historic restaurant in Piazza del Plebiscito, have been proudly wearing a shield on their immaculate white jacket since yesterday. Naples is beautiful, it offers its most authentic face to those who have decided to spend the May Day bridge here. There isn’t a free room in any hotel and football has nothing to do with it. Indeed, this is precisely the most important point. It’s not a story of social redemption, it’s not the sport that drags the city up. No, this is the story of the Scudetto won by a very strong team: it is pure football, devoid of the rhetoric that very often in the past has dressed and accompanied, perhaps rightly, the successes of Napoli. There are no revenges to take, there are no other meanings. A wonderful city and a fantastic team.
At the special stand
The seafront is an endless parade of T-shirts, even if the temperature invites you to wear at least a sweatshirt. Between 9 in Osimhen and 77 in Kvaratskhelia many 10’s of Maradona appear, a trident of dreams that connects past and present. Diego is the son of the city and father of the team, even of this one which took shape when he could only admire it from above. And towards the sky, today at 5 pm, the gaze of the fans who will fill the stadium and the streets of the city will go. Up there is a special grandstand, perfectly illustrated in a banner hanging in the Spanish Quarters: captain Di Lorenzo, Victor Osimhen and other players scan the horizon and see Diego Maradona lifting the Scudetto with the number 3 while next to him smile Massimo Troisi, Pino Daniele, Bud Spencer and Mario Merola. It’s nice to think that even in that corner of the sky a parade is being improvised to celebrate this success. It’s nice to realize that in this city happiness is not just a state of mind, but takes on almost physical contours. So whether it’s today or in a few days, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy it, Naples. As only you can.
April 30 – 10:29
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