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La Metropolitana progettata da Edoardo Bennato

The Metro designed by Edoardo Bennato

by Federico Quagliuolo

The Naples Metro designed by Edoardo Bennato

Forty years ago, while the last construction sites were completing the destruction of the hills of Naples and the sacking of the city was now complete, an album was released by a very talented 28-year-old Neapolitan, this Edoardo Bennato: his name was "I who am not the emperor"And it was a lively, strong and ironic attack on the whole world with the anger and the desire to turn the world upside down of those who, as a young man, begin to appear in an unfair, iniquitous, false world, which disappoints all those dreams and expectations created in an entire student career.
Bennato had something for everyone: he made fun of the tear-jerking love songs with “Io per te Margherita”, he fiercely attacked political figures and, even, even provoked the Pope, with “Look out!”.

The most hidden and interesting message, however, is found in the most unexpected place: the cover. It was in fact clearly one underground line, more precisely of a future Naples Metro.

La Metropolitana progettata da Edoardo Bennato


Just a few years before the release of the album, when he was majoring in Architecture, Bennato discussed a thesis entitled " Restructuring of the Campi Flegrei area with particular reference to collective urban transport networks " and, not even on purpose, a couple of years after this thesis the construction sites for the "Hill Underground”Of Naples in Piazza Medaglie d'Oro.

Naples in the 1970s was facing one of the greatest urban upheavals in its history and, having overcome the tragedies of the reconstruction of the War, new challenges were already ready: how to connect a city which, after having occupied every free centimeter to the east and west, had he covered the hills with condominiums by now? The funiculars were no longer enough: they guaranteed very limited and short journeys and for an inhabitant of the Aminei Hills to get to Chiaia would still have been impossible, just as it was utopia for an inhabitant of Bagnoli to get to the railway quickly.

The bus, this is not a novelty, they were few and did not adapt well to the complex and busy city street fabric; meanwhile also the ancient line of the tram Neapolitans, which until the time of the war was among the largest and most active in Italy, was slowly being dismantled, only to disappear almost completely today.

La Metropolitana progettata da Edoardo Bennato

Bennato's t-shirt on the cover of the album "Abbi Dubbi" has the writing "Campi Flegrei 55", which is the address of the house where Bennato was born and lived as a child

The only solution to get the Neapolitans to move around the city was therefore an underground rail that would have had to dig into that tuff which in its heart has kept all sorts of evidence of the ancient lives of Naples, in its three thousand years of history.
This was the historical framework in which the young doctor of architecture, with a passion for rock, prepared his contribution to change and improve the world in which he had grown up. Just Bennato was well aware of the "segregation at home" of certain districts of the city, as he was born in Bagnoli, at the foot of that steel mill that for a century destroyed the lives and health of the Neapolitans: a neighborhood born as a fishing village and then reduced to sad industrial province with red roofs.




Ironic to think about it: Naples was there first city to have a railway line in Italy and, at the same time, the last "capital of Italy" to acquire a subway, behind Rome and Milan, which already had services well underway for years. Just Milan was the spearhead of the Italian city railways, with its underground which, even today, is an excellent service. After numerous debates, appeals, lost loans and tenders at Palazzo San Giacomo, in fact, it was the company "Metropolitana Milanese SpA”To be entrusted in 1975 with the design and construction management of the future Naples underground, at the conclusion of a very long negotiation that had even begun in 1968, almost ten years earlier.

The project was presented and approved by the Municipality, even if then, over the years, it was modified several times even after the inauguration of the first section Colli Aminei-Vanvitelli, in 1993. Almost twenty years after the inauguration of the first construction site!

La Metropolitana progettata da Edoardo Bennato

The original Metro project does not differ much from the current one.

Bennato harshly criticized the original project, since "it does not envisage the restructuring of existing lines"(He was referring to the Circumflegrea, the Circumvesuviana and the Alifana which no longer exists) and, above all, does not take the slightest account of the Neapolitan suburbs, which in his opinion would have been the cornerstone on which to develop the economy in Naples in the future.

If the Fuorigrotta-Arenaccia line has completely disappeared from the projects of Metronapoli, the rest is instead very similar to the current configuration, with the difference that now Line 1 it does not stop in Bovio, but has "incorporated" part of the route that must have been the current one Line 6, the one that will lead from Fuorigrotta to Piazza del Plebiscito. In the 1972 plans, however, line 6 was to be a much longer journey, Bagnoli-Railway.

La Metropolitana progettata da Edoardo Bennato

The subway imagined by Bennato in his thesis

The subway designed in Bennato's thesis and drawn on the cover of "I who am not the Emperor"Is instead much more complex and much more attentive towards the immediate province, with large interchange stations similar to the model of the Paris Metro.
Likewise, his interest in the whole coast of Naples was maximum, with Pozzuoli, Baia and even Cuma.

The approval of the graduation commission was guaranteed with this design that could have given life to the dreams of visionary Lamont Young and the album was also quite successful, with its silent and abstract design on the cover which, to the inattentive listener, had all the air of being vaguely a subway.

The project of a young architect of high hopes, however, did not have the same success obtained by his songs: in almost fifty years of work, disputes, interruptions of works and inefficiencies, the Line 1 of Naples is seeking its redemption with the art stations. On the other hand, Bennato's design was never seriously considered.


The subway a Fuorigrotta it only arrived in 1990, with the crazy constructions of Italia 90 that devastated the entire urban and building fabric of the neighborhood. There was therefore an opportunity to publish a song under the pseudonym "Joe Sarnataro", "Under Viale Augusto which is there“!


With the same imagination that he used to write his songs about Naples, the pen of Bennato the architect did not stop only at imagining a modern subway, but also at a real one revolution of the stairs of Naples, which had to be replaced by escalators that would have allowed very easy movements (and much easier for the handicapped!) within the very complex city fabric.
The only place where his project of escalators it was implemented on the steps near the Montesanto station, but the escalators have also been very successful unhappy. They have been lying closed and maintenance free for years.




And so, among the drawings and stanzas of a young graduate who wanted an oblique utopian city, full of greenery and with a large subway, Bennato he hid his soul as an architect in all his music.


-Federico Quagliuolo



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