The Rione Santa Lucia, the district of Naples defender of the Bourbons

by Federico Quagliuolo

The Borgo Santa Lucia has remained for centuries a monument to the Bourbons, as if an entire neighborhood had remained stuck in 1850 even after the Unification.

For example, the feast of the 'nzegna, made until 1953, in which all residents of the neighborhood they disguised themselves as Ferdinand and Carolina, a bit nostalgically and a bit as a joke.
Seen with modern eyes this thing cannot be explained: why a single district of Naples was like this fond of the ancient rulers?

The reason must be discovered by digging into the coffers of history and even looking at ancient times: Santa Lucia it was always the most faithful district of Naples to the monarchy since the times of the Spanish viceroys.
The idyll in fact he was born with the viceroy Enrique de Guzmán, count of Olivares, who completely rearranged the ancient fishing village, previously known for being a dilapidated and dangerous place, ordering the construction of the fountain of the Sermoneta which today is still located on the seafront. After the urban interventions, the area soon became very rich and, from there, the Lucians became very loyal defenders of the monarchy.

Il Rione Santa Lucia, il quartiere di Napoli difensore dei Borbone

The citizens of Saint Lucia: Bourbon loyalists to the extreme

Several stories are told about the link between the Bourbons and Santa Lucia: Ferdinand II, for example, he always wandered unescorted by the parts of the promenade, which today is covered by the new "District of Beauty" built during the Remediation.

Here the best seafood in Naples was sold and the King was crazy about it, so much so that he invented a "degree" for fishermen, the "Physical oyster fish".

Or, when Francis II was exiled, Vincenzo Gemito gave him a small sculpture that he portrayed a Luciano with an amphora of water, just to remind him of the places in Naples he loved most.
When finally Liborio Romano made arrangements with Tore 'and Criscienzo to keep any armed uprisings in Naples at bay, the residents of Santa Lucia rose up violently against henchmen managed by the Camorra. It was very difficult to put them back in their place.
The same Romano, then, expressly said that "the Lucians can never be appointed city guards". The order of City Guards it was very particular: they claimed to be inspired by the "French model", in which the national guards were gods militias made up of citizens who armed themselves to defend national unity. In the Neapolitan case they were mostly affiliated with the Beautiful Company or, more generally, of leftovers from jail who took advantage ofamine created by the change of institutions to commit any illegality.

Giorgio Sommer Santa Lucia
Giorgio Sommer - Santa Lucia before the flooding

A very severe punishment for the Lucians

The exasperated loyalty of the Lucians it gave the new administrations a lot of headaches. And he was severely punished. During the Remediation an entire district was built in front of the ancient Santa Lucia. The fishermen were first en masse expropriated to build the new buildings, then reduced in misery for the inability to work and, as if that weren't enough, finally they were piled up in the lower case "Fishermen's Village" built ad hoc under the Castel dell'Ovo. But it was one tiny structure unable to accommodate the huge number of Lucians.

Reduced to poverty e dismantled the ancient economy of the Rione Santa Lucia, incompatible with the new urban layout who saw Chiaia as a elegant and bourgeois neighborhood, many Luciani turned to crime, others emigrated to the Americas, still others sought makeshift jobs and moved to the province. The only way to eliminate the neighborhood's loyalty was physically to destroy the neighborhood itself.

Poor, desperate and without a home, the inhabitants of Santa Lucia decided to abandon their land, becoming in fact the first Neapolitan emigrants to the Americas, a story dramatic to which Ferdinando Russo he dedicated a poem called, in fact, "Saint Lucia".
And so the sea, the only friend who has never betrayed Saint Lucia, became the last hope of a people who were forced to emigrate not to betray the ancient monarchy.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Giancarlo Alisio, Naples and the Risanamento

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