Piazzetta Maradona in the Spanish Quarters, the sanctuary of Dios

by Federico Quagliuolo

If all of Naples is more or less a place of worship in which the lamentation is venerated in various forms Diego Armando Maradona, in the Spanish Quarters there is just "Piazzetta Maradona", a place where the veneration of the God of football has brought together football and religion since 1990, attracting tourists from all over the world and with every football faith.

After the death of the strongest player ever, we could say that Naples has split into three shrines to venerate his most beloved symbol: the murals of Jorit in San Giovanni a Teduccio, the San Paolo Stadium, which shortly after it was renamed, and indeed "Piazzetta Maradona", who had already assumed this name among the people and expects to become official in the town toponymy.
It still is today a place of obligatory visit for players, managers and former athletes of all sports faiths who go to the Spanish Quarters a pay homage to the memory of the Pibe de Oro right under his mural.

Maradona Quartieri Spagnoli
The Maradona of the Spanish neighborhoods today
Piazzetta Maradona ai Quartieri Spagnoli, il santuario di Dios

It all started in 1990

Before April 1990, this small open space between Via Emanuele De Deo and Via Concordia was an anonymous place, the classic car shelter. Then came the miracle of the second and last Scudetto of Napoli. And with the sporting success the people of the Districts returned to the streets even more festive than that 10 May 1986, filling the entire district again with writings and drawings that still survive today.

Right here arose a gigantic mural of Number 10, with the blue hair worthy of Sonic the Hedgehog and with the running pose. It was a spontaneous work of art which was born on the civic facade 60 which, in fact, overlooks the current Piazzetta Maradona. No wonder such a crazy movement: the whole city was completely colored in blue between 1986 and 1990 and still today there are numerous testimonies around Naples.

The author of the first mural was Mario Filardi, a resident, who worked incessantly for create a 10 meters high work of art, which became the characteristic of the area and, little by little, grew a small sanctuary of scarves, balls and others more or less ancient memories of Napoli football that accumulated over the years on the walls of the square.

Murales Diego Armando Maradona Piazzetta Maradona
A mural dedicated to Diego Armando Maradona in the Spanish Quarters in Naples

Piazzetta Maradona, a place of worship

It was 2016 when the mural of Piazzetta Maradona ai Spanish Quarters returned to the limelight of local news. Fromlast championship they were now over 26 years and time, cruel, showed all signs on the paint resisted to acid rain, smog and neglect: the Napoli shirt was there discolored until it becomes white, while the hair of Maradona only had a few last reflection of the blue of the foliage. So it was that Salvatore Iodice, historical resident of the districts and patron of Mine, decided to restore the mural, prompted by a public fundraiser that flew on the wings of thelove for the neighborhood and on the wings ofsporting enthusiasm.
It was the early years of Higuain, Callejon, Reina, Albiol e Mertens to Naples, arrived with great fanfare thanks to the charisma of Rafa Benitez. The team, which came out of the previous management with a scudetto close to the 2nd place in the standings, had ignited the hearts of fans more than ever, despite the disappointing 2015-2016 season. The desire to relive that dream of the late 80s, however, it was in the air. What if it wasn't for that triumph torn in 2018, today we would have in our hands who knows what festive images under Diego's feet.

In short, the Scudetto did not arrive. But the restoration was a real one trumpet blast for the fashion of Street Art in the Spanish Quarters. Shortly thereafter the Argentine Bosoletti he would in fact create his own extraordinary Isis on the building in front of the Maradona. He also decided to repaint the face of the Pibe de Oro, which was originally absent. On the other hand, he was almost among Argentines a debt of honor. Soon after, other artists arrived and the whole open space was quickly repainted.

The history of Salvatore Iodice's restoration was also filmed a documentary.

Murales Diego Armando Maradona Piazzetta Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona's mural in Piazzetta Maradona before the restoration

The Neapolitan "saints": a love story for those who loved the city

Also in the Quarters was born in 2018 the Vico Totò, another place completely devoted to the veneration of another "lay saint" of the city: this notable presence of places of worship of some characters famous in popular culture it explains well the Neapolitan trend of to create idols among all those who brought prestige to the city.

In fact, around Piazzetta Maradona, after the "start" of Iodice and Bosoletti in 2016, an unruly, crazy and creative birth of tributes to the faces of Neapolitanism, from Troisi to Pino Daniele: today we are hit by a festival of colors and designs that gave birth and stories to tell at every corner of the square: from door dedicated to Marek Hamsik, maybe the captain most loved after the golden age of Naples, to the drawing dedicated to Palazzo Donn'Anna, to bring the sea even inside the districts.

Graffito Higuain Quartieri Spagnoli
Even the "enemies of the Fatherland" have found their space

In order not to miss anything, away from the divine gaze of Maradona, there is also in the corner a graffiti dedicated to Higuain which, fromsmell of sanctity touched with his record seasons, with his move to Juventus he managed to transform love into the deepest hatred.

Piazzetta Maradona sums it up perfectly all the excesses of the Neapolitan character: a messy and overwhelming mass of colors, characters, testimonies, living and dead idols, with the addition of the'indication of "false idols" to be kept away, as a warning to posterity.
All is born spontaneously, as if individual citizens were unknowingly moved by a collective intelligence: there is no better place to demonstrate, better than any other turn of phrase, the sense of devotion of an entire city towards those who loved it and made it great in the world.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Piazzetta Maradona
The Maradona square today, a real place of worship

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