Different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, writes Italo Calvino, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves. At time even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voices’ accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place. It is pointless to ask whether the new gods are better or worse than the old, since there is no connection between them… We recommend you another Italian documentary movie: Edoardo Morabito and Irma Vecchio’s I fantasmi di San Berillo (2013), first prize at Torino Film Festival. The demolition of this old neighbourhood in the centre of Catania (Sicily), in 1958, was the biggest urban evisceration in post-war Italy, linked (as everything in the country) with Vatican’s Società Generale Immobiliare: 30.000 people where displaced towards the peripheries. It was the same year in which brothels were banned: prostitutes were forced to work underground, and what was left of San Berillo turned into one of the biggest “red light districts” of the Mediterranean. So the story of the neighbourhood went on for another half century, until 2001, when a new police operation evicted again prostitutes and transvestites from their houses and streets. Today many plots are still unoccupied, and some became new favelas (see this 2012 video). The documentary shifts visually from past to present, and the images are associated with the fascinating words of writer Goliarda Sapienza, born in San Berillo in 1924.
What happened with the Euromediterranée, an ambitious project that costed over 3,5 billion euros, and that transformed 480 hectars? Can we get rid of it by simply calling it gentrification? A commentary by two Italian planners, R. Marchini & A. Sotgia.
Few people know that Rome has a coastal line. Where the Tiber river meets the sea, lies the last self-built neighborhood of the Italian capital: Idroscalo, where Pasolini died, and where 500 families have been fighting during half a century against the threat of urban renewal.
As José Mansilla writes, in focusing on the rising, the growth and evolution of the middle class we understand how the so-called "progressive" urbanism in Barcelona took this turn to real estate speculation and privatizations. Will this process continue, or will we have the chance to see some change?
As opposed to the orientalist stereotypes depicting Kathmandu (Nepal) as a place out of time and of the world, the social reality of Nepal reveals an admirable vivacity. Artists and intellectuals participate in this debates, contributing to make it a laboratory of postsecularism and "multiple modernities".
The last number of the review "Lo Squaderno" analyses some of the keywords in the new urban rhetorics: an articulation of the neoliberal newspeak from which Loïc Wacquant and Pierre Bourdieu warned us more than 10 years ago. Expressions like "vibrant city", "common goods", "mixité", "integration", "creativity", and obviously "citizen participation" are recurring terms in the lexicon of urban policies, serving as excuses for conducts contradictory with the original sense of the words that compose them (like we stressed in our work A Barcelona la participación canta). A series of academical and non-academical scholars discuss these rhetorical constructions bringing examples from Naples, Boston, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and, of course, Barcelona. The issue is illustrated with Rosario Kuri's reportage Barcelona bordes irregulares we linked in a previous post. Download Lo Squaderno n.25 here (italian - english).