From its narrow streets to the balconies, the whole of Naples is swathed in blue, the color of its football club, which is approaching its third Italian championship title, the coveted scudetto.
Eight days from the end, the Neapolitans have a solid 14-point lead over Lazio. The coronation would be historic for Napoli, who have not won the title since 1990 with Diego Maradona, legend of Argentine football whose city has made a “king” still revered today as a saint.
In the “Spanish quarters”, a maze of alleys in the center where the hearts of the Neapolitan people beat, it’s a real race for devotion for the team led by star striker Victor Osimhen.
At the corner of Spaccanapoli, the street that literally “cuts” the city in two, and via Toledo, a shopping street, a large banner clearly announces the color: “Welcome to Spaccanapoli the Blue!”
On the top floor of a building, a resident posted photos of Napoli players on his four balconies.
Traders are not left out and are also surfing the blue wave, like Antonio Coppola, a baker in the historic center, who makes and sells at each club match. bright blue loaves adorned with the “N” of Napoli.
“I live for Napoli, it’s my passion, so I had the idea of creating a bread in his honor (…) for my customers + tifosi +”, explains the bearded fellow of 37 years, who managed to find a food coloring perfectly resistant to cooking from its suppliers.
And his initiative is a hit with his customers: “Everything related to the Naples club is currently working well”.
Salvatore Russo, who is holding a tattoo parlor via Toledo, is also experiencing it with its latest creation, a crest celebrating Napoli’s 3rd title. “On January 30, I decided to put superstition aside and tattoo him,” he told AFP in his living room, sitting in front of a portrait of Diego Maradona topped with a crucifix.
– Maradona and San Gennaro –
“The players will sew it on their jersey, I sewed it on my skin”, launches a bravado nothing this pure Neapolitan born about twenty meters from the immense fresco representing Maradona in the heart of the Spanish districts. Since then, he has made about thirty of these tattoos.
That day, it was the turn of Antonio Cardone, who ran a curtain store just a stone’s throw away. The third title, “we almost won it, the fourth, I hope it will come soon because I’m already 56!”, he jokes, gritting his teeth while Salvatore applies the color on his right arm.
Above the Napoli crest, he engraves the dates of the three titles on the skin of Antonio, who also evokes the tutelary figure of Maradona: “For us, he is an idol: first San Gennaro and just after Maradona”, he says in reference to the patron saint of Naples, object of great veneration.
In this city where unemployment and poverty rub shoulders with the mafia, the passion for football transcends generations and social classes: the lawyer Eugenio Salzano, barely out of court, does not hesitate to take off his shirt to show his tattoos to glory of Naples.
On title day, “you’ll realize what it’s like to party in Naples (…) It’s madness!” promises the forties, who follows all the matches as a subscriber.
Vesuvius, whose majestic silhouette dominates the Bay of Naples, is also invoked: “If it erupts, we hope it will spit tricolor lava” in the colors of the Italian flag, adds the lawyer laughing.
Even the failure on Tuesday against AC Milan of Frenchman Olivier Giroud, which deprives Napoli of the last four of the Champions League, does not dampen the enthusiasm of the tifosi.
“Elimination does not change anything (…) Let’s look ahead to win the scudetto,” says Vincenzo Celentano, 47, another subscriber to the Diego Maradona stadium. “Naples is still Naples (…) it is more and more beautiful, even in less auspicious times”.
Analysis shared by a taxi driver, an infallible barometer of popular mood: “We are 22 points ahead of Milan in the league, that’s what counts. That shows that we are the strongest!” rejoices Giuseppe de Bernardo, 47 years old.