Rione Luzzatti: an island within the city

by Leonardo Quagliuolo

Behind the Business Center, immediately after the abrupt interruption of the concrete platforms that keep it elevated, a forgotten area of the eastern outskirts of Naples makes room, not far away, which only recently had some notoriety, following almost a century of anonymity: it is the Rione Luzzatti.

Rione luzzatti
The business center seen from the Luzzatti district

The origins of the Luzzatti district

The Luzzatti district is an agglomeration of public housing, the main nucleus of which was built on behalf of the Autonomous Institute of Popular Homes, better known as IACP, between the early 1900s and the 1950s.

The area, until a few years earlier, was mostly a swampy area, almost uninhabited, like most of the neighborhoods that today border the railway area and which, nowadays, have become densely inhabited.

The moment of greater urbanization came in the 1950s due to the need of citizens of Naples and its surroundings to have a home, after the devastation brought about by the war. Almost all the land was quickly occupied by new buildings, interspersed with a few straight streets: via Taddeo da Sessa and via Emanuele Gianturco, fundamental connections of the district with the rest of the city.

The original nucleus, however, is at least fifty years older: the first stones were laid back in 1914, only to see an intensification of the works in the twenty years, under the guidance of the High Commissioner for Naples, Michele Castelli: it was traced an area of about 42,000 square meters, with a central square and several streets with regular paths that converge there. In this area there were numerous social housing and spaces for small commercial activities.

However, even at the time that small cluster of houses in the Luzzatti district was very isolated, compared to many other districts built in those years, which instead had a much more central and accessible position from the rest of the city. See the nearby Vittorio Emanuele III district, not far from the Poggioreale prison, or the next one Miraglia district, in the nascent district of Fuorigrotta.

At the end of construction, the district was dedicated to the jurist and well-known politician Luigi Luzzatti, who in 1903 founded the Autonomous Case Popolari Institute.

Damaged by the bombings of the Allies, the Luzzatti district was affected by a partial reconstruction and the addition of several buildings between the immediate postwar period and the 1960s, years in which road extensions decidedly less ordered than the original nucleus were traced, up to make it as we see it today.

rione luzzatti
The Luzzatti district today. Photo by Federico Quagliuolo

The Ascarelli stadium

At the gates of the Rione Luzzatti, in 1930, the first stadium where the Napoli Soccer Club played was inaugurated, built by Giorgio Ascarelli, a Neapolitan entrepreneur of Jewish origin, who unfortunately had little time to appreciate his property, since he died very young from an illness.

In the spotlight

The Luzzatti district, since the end of 2018, has aroused the attention of the audience of the TV series "The brilliant friend”, Taken from the series of novels by Elena Ferrante and set in that small and isolated suburb of Naples, starting from the 1950s and which shows a faithful reconstruction of the appearance of the area in those years.

After a century, despite the enormous changes experienced by the city of Naples, the Rione Luzzatti remains an island within the city limits.

Leonardo Quagliuolo

For more:

"Naples nineteenth century"By prof. G. Alisio


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