Via Roma or via Toledo? The historic quarrel of the Neapolitans

The quarrel of the Neapolitans: via Roma or via Toledo?

In London Oxford Street, in Barcelona La Rambla, a Rome via del Corso, and in Naples? We boast via Toledo.

The main artery of the Neapolitan city, located in San Ferdinando district, runs for 1.2 km between Dante square e piazza del Plebiscito.
A crossroads for tourists as well as a preferred destination for Neapolitan stroll; between shop windows and acrobats, old shops and fashion shops, it is here that bourgeois life meets and mingles with common life, where the man in a tie meets the urchin.
Colors, sounds, scents: it is not a way rather a synaesthetic experience, one mood.

Risultati immagini per via roma già via toledo

The double identity: "via Roma already via Toledo"

"Passe scampanianno pe 'Tuleto" so in 1956 he wrote Renato Carosone in its timeless "You want to be American". "Toledo? But isn't it called via Roma?”, Someone could have rightly objected.
The Neapolitan citizens obviously know it with both names. However, it is not uncommon for them to have a certainty too uncertainty and mystery as to which one is correct.
To be honest there is no real name. Both are and respectively represent two souls, two identities, two different stories of the same Naples; an Iberian soul, an Italian one.
It exists at most an official toponymy which has changed uniformly with the course of historical events.
So let's retrace the history of what represents the way par excellence of the "grind"Neapolitan.

It was the year 1536 when the viceroy of Naples don Pedro Alvarez de Toledo, commissioned the two royal architects Giovanni Benincasa e Ferdinando Manlio the construction. The idea was born for a triple purpose. First of all, cover the so-called "Chiavicone”, An open-air sewer that from Montesanto channeled the waste water from the Vomerese hills towards the sea. Secondly, create a link between Largo del Mercatello (today Dante square) and the now thriving in expansion Chiaja district, as well as supplying the quarters of the Iberian troops, located in the adjacent Spanish Quarters, an easy way to reach the Royal Forum (current Piazza del Plebiscito), where the viceregal palace was to be built shortly thereafter and always at the behest of Don Pedro. The project established that the artery should extend along the old western walls of the Aragonese age which, considered obsolete by the Toledan, were demolished for the expansion of the defensive perimeter.
In honor of the "viceroy town planner”The street was baptized via Toledo.

Commercial activities, literary cafes, imposing civil and religious buildings arose, animated it and allowed it to become the beating heart of the city.
On the morning of 20 September 1870However, something happened that would have changed the history of the newborn Italy and conditioned that of Naples. Rome was conquered and annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, of which it soon became the capital.

This is where the pivot point of the toponymic question lies.

Paolo Emilio Imbriani
The portrait of Paolo Emilio Imbriani
Via Roma o via Toledo? La storica querelle dei napoletani

Via Toledo becomes Via Roma

On 10 October of that year, the then mayor of Naples Paolo Emilio Imbriani he thought - it is not entirely clear whether his sponte or a tacit request from the Savoy family - to change the toponym via Toledo to via Roma in honor of the new capital. The proposal immediately aroused quite a few controversies in the city council and among the citizens, literally dividing public opinion. Did changing the centuries-old name mean betraying tradition and one's roots or forgetting foreign domination and regaining lost dignity? We are facing an aporia.
The issue was liquidated by the municipal council by choosing an intermediate solution: the road would be called "via Roma formerly via Toledo". But this bitter consolation prize certainly did not appease most, the true Neapolitans, who gathered in the famous "Pro Committee via Toledo”, Receiving support from numerous intellectuals. The Neapolitan historian Bartolommeo Capasso albeit in favor of the unification of Italy, he wrote indignantly: "a denomination that has no heal, the history was ignored and wanted to change into another". Support even came from beyond the Alps. The German historian Ferdinand Gregorovius put it this way: "Of what into what we went to the point of changing in Naples up to the historic and three times secular name of the Toledo street into that of Roma street, and of wanting to force the people, who oppose it and resist it, to recognize the stupid violence "
Nevertheless Imbriani was peremptory. The old road signs were replaced with updated ones and, in the climate of heated protest, it was even considered necessary that they be monitored by municipal guards to avoid vandalism by the fiery Neapolitans against them.
Over the years to come, the original name fell into disuse especially among the new generations, but only partially.
There Neapolitan song in fact, which has always been the most authentic fruit of popular sentiment, he became its guardian never forgetting the originally Hispanic nature of the beloved street and always quoted it in terms of "Tuleto".

Fuje ll'autriere ca t'aggio 'ncuntrata
fuje ll'autriere in Tuleto, 'gnorsí
(Libero Bovio, Reginella, 1917)

Toledo, not via Toledo, although less via Roma. It is not a way, it is a feeling.
Only in 1980, after almost a century, at the behest of Valenzi Council the Neapolitan artery regained its original name and the name via Roma was instead assigned to a street in the Scampia district.
However, the Neapolitan is known, both in smiles and in tears, never loses his innate irony.
And in fact it was in the womb of discontent that one came to life nursery rhyme still known to the elders of the city:

“Nu 'ritto antico, e' o proverb se noma, rice: all roads lead to Rome; Imbriani, 'a toja is very different, it does not lead to Rome but to Aversa “.

How come really Aversa? The first Italian asylum facility was located right there: the Real House of Fools!

-Marianna Di Nardo

Camillo Albanese, The curiosities of Naples, Newton Compton editors, 2015

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