Tuesday, 21 October 2008


An Italian neo-realist film directed by Matteo Garonne, about the Camorra, Naples' real-life mafia. Try to see it if you can, it makes 'Goodfella's' look as inauthentic as Disney. The author of the original book, Roberto Saviano, is in hiding, under threat of assassination. Several members of the cast have been arrested since the release of the film for extra-curricular mafia activities... (see this link)
I'm of Italian extraction, from caves in Minori, south of Naples. Between the wars one half of my family came to England, to run a café, become boxers, actors and make ice-cream whilst the other half went to America, reportedly part of the mafia. 
Every family party is like a Scorcese scene: men in tailored suits exuding menace, women glinting gold, aunts cutting a swathe on the dance floor whatever their size, children dancing on feet. The menu is always bi-cultural; English bland stodge (stale vol au vents/pineapple and cheese on a cocktail stick) interspersed with penne al' arrabiatta, melanzana parmigiana and salami.
My great grandmother, Nanny Savino, even at 80 years old, would sell Woodbines and Silk Cut from the doorway of her Holloway council flat, which we would proudly collect from under her bed. Children love to play shops and Napolitan habits die hard. She cooked tooth shattering toffee in tin pans, dark or light, and apple fritters. Sometimes she would buy us pomegranates from a wandering seller; sold with pins to pick out the glistening seeds. This scene is not from the 19th century but from the 1960's.


  1. ML, I've always had a feeling, don't know why, that you have Italian blood. But I can't quite picture you wearing sunglasses and carrying a violin case. Looks like an interesting film though; I'll check it out.

  2. Yes and I've always found it hard to behave in an entirely English way. Being English means exercising tremendous emotional self-discipline.
    The film is extraordinary and will no doubt be an Oscar contender.

  3. thank you but no. I will not be watching this one.

  4. Is that because you think it's violent? It isn't really, less so than your average Hollywood blockbuster. What I like about it is that it shows the sheer poverty that the mafia stems from...

  5. My mum mused to eat pomegranate that way too - and that was the 60's - memories....


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