Italy stinks

AFP Trash—a munnezza, as they call it in southern Italy—is invading the streets of Naples. And though the city council just removed an impressive 4,000 tons of it, the International Herald Tribune reported recently that “egg shells, fermenting teddy bears, garlic, hair that looks human, boxes for blood pressure medicine, [and] scuzzy wine bottles” are ...

600620_070712_garbage_05.jpg
600620_070712_garbage_05.jpg

AFP

Trash—a munnezza, as they call it in southern Italy—is invading the streets of Naples. And though the city council just removed an impressive 4,000 tons of it, the International Herald Tribune reported recently that "egg shells, fermenting teddy bears, garlic, hair that looks human, boxes for blood pressure medicine, [and] scuzzy wine bottles" are still a common picture around town. A few enraged Neapolitans have protested by setting the trash on fire, and black-dressed elderly Italian women are blocking the railways in order to get the attention of public authorities.

Foreigners are amazed. Italians are ashamed.

AFP

Trash—a munnezza, as they call it in southern Italy—is invading the streets of Naples. And though the city council just removed an impressive 4,000 tons of it, the International Herald Tribune reported recently that “egg shells, fermenting teddy bears, garlic, hair that looks human, boxes for blood pressure medicine, [and] scuzzy wine bottles” are still a common picture around town. A few enraged Neapolitans have protested by setting the trash on fire, and black-dressed elderly Italian women are blocking the railways in order to get the attention of public authorities.

Foreigners are amazed. Italians are ashamed.

It’s gotten so bad that on Monday, the U.S. embassy urged tourists to stay away from Naples and its nasty smells. And Brussels is threatening EU penalties against Italy for allowing a health and environmental hazard to fester.

This is hardly the first time Naples has nearly drowned in its own refuse. In fact, it happens every summer. But why? Here are two clues:

  1. There aren’t enough dumpsters around town, but the city council hasn’t bothered to add any in years.
  2. When the official dumpsters are full, trash-deluged citizens must pay for illegal dumpsters managed by the camorra, the Neapolitan mafia.

Surely Passport readers can put two and two together here. I bet you thought that Tony Soprano‘s job in the waste-disposal business was a cover, right? We Italians know that garbage is the game, baby.

Erica Alini is a Rome-based researcher for the Associated Press.

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