The history of panaro, from its origins to the present day

by Imma Galluccio

Scinnit o 'panaro meant”- to this call of any itinerant of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs, the man of the alleys of Naples, and of the whole Campania, drop the basket, come on balconies making him bring himself comfortably there expense at home. Those who have come to Naples at least for once cannot say that they have not witnessed this typical custom of the people, but, let's face it all, also of the whole Southern Italy.

La storia del panaro, dalle origini ai giorni nostri

The panarum, the wicker basket from which tradition is born

The custom of panaro has very ancient origins. The Romans used to use the panarum, a wicker basket in which the bread, the essential carbohydrate of the Mediterranean diet. Over the years with theinventiveness of the Neapolitans, this wicker basket took on a different connotation.

The tradition actually comes from unease created by lack of comfort inside the buildings. Neapolitan families, yesterday as today, used to do abundant expenses that could make cupboards overflow and set the table especially on Sundays.

But for the women che took care of the shopping, every time it was difficult to carry all food up to your home, especially if you lived on the upper floors.

And it's ingenuity of the Neapolitan people who once again surprises and makes trend: one was tied to the wicker basket handles strong and long rope, to be able to descend as soon as any food vendor was heard.

These passed by early in the morning and, warning the ladies of their passage, the panaro fell from the balconies, buying products from the comfort of your home if you can lighten the load of daily shopping.

"We lost to Filippo e 'o panaro"

We had lost to Filippo and o'panaro”The saying indicates one situation of uncertainty which leads to making hasty choices. Born from the comedy "the king of the Pulcinella" Of Antonio Petito. And it is in this comedy that one of the servants, along with the usual Pulcinella, was called precisely Philip.

Filippo was in the servants of the noble Pancrazio, who one day decided to give him one basket full of delicacies. The servant, perhaps for greed, he decided to devour all the food contained in the basket that had been entrusted to him. After, however, attacked by guilt feelings and for fear of a severe punishment, he decided never to return to his master and so yes he fled.

After this episode, the noble Pancratius, having lost both the servant and the contents of the basket, will say the famous phrase that we all know.

The solidarity panaro, born from the need

The wicker basket has become again hero during the period of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, living among the restrictions imposed by the government to decrease infections since from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it was not possible to have direct contact, not even between family members. A simple solution, for to communicate e help each other with relatives and friends, it was that of drop the panaro and prove, even if from a distance, that it was anyway near and present.

With the same principle, the solidarity panaro, promoted by associations who worked in the soup kitchen, but closed during the health emergency. The basket was suspended all the day and collected anonymously foodstuffs, that they could to help families in difficulty.

Each of these was distinguished by the phrase of Don Giuseppe Moscati "who can put, who can not take“, The manner of donation was anonymous, this incentivized people to both give and take. The solidarity panaro finally came pulled up a end health emergency, but it still remains a symbol of humanity and solidarity, features that the city of Naples has never lacked.


Neapolitan curiosities. Stories, anecdotes and idioms of popular tradition, Elisa Chinni Rampone, Tina De Gregorio Palumbo, Graus Edizioni, 2016

Become a supporter!

We have decided to remove advertisements from the website to ensure maximum enjoyment of our stories. However, we need financial support to keep our editorial activities alive: join the supporters of our platform, for you many advantages and preview videos!

Leave a comment

error: NOTICE: You can't copy the content!