May 30, 2010

Mussolini’s ‘Significant Other’

Giovanni Gentile: Fascism’s Ideological Mastermind
Professore Giovanni Gentile:
the “Philosopher of Fascism”
By Niccolò Graffio
“Philosophy triumphs easily over past, and over future evils, but present evils triumph over philosophy.” – François de La Rochefoucauld: Maxims, 1665
In writing the history of a country or of an ethnos, all too often even the most well-meaning people are tempted out of patriotism to embellish the truth by either building up the good or omitting certain ‘unsavory’ facts about the past. On an emotional level this is understandable. After all, in a certain sense an ethnic group is a vastly extended family. The country, on the other hand, can be considered a sizable prolongation of the borders of one’s home. Who but the crassest enjoys speaking ill of home and family?

Nevertheless, if one wishes to strive for accuracy and objectivity in their writings, one must inevitably confront the specter of those who, during the course of their lives, engaged in actions that today go against the grain of established social mores. Otherwise, one risks being exposed to the charge of chauvinism (or worse).

It has been the stated purpose of this writer to show the reader how his people, the DueSiciliani, have carved out a place for themselves in this world in spite of the loss of their homeland, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, to the forces of the Piedmontese and their allies in 1861. Thus far, I and other like-minded folk posting on this blog have written of the commendable members of our people who have significantly added to Western Civilization through their contributions to the arts, sciences, philosophy (and even sports).

Men like Ettore Majorana, Salvator Rosa, Vincenzo Bellini and “the Nolan”, Giordano Bruno have unquestionably made this world better by being in it.

Similarly, we have written of those whose legacies provoke more ambivalent feelings. Men like Paolo di Avitabile and Michele Pezza, the legendary “Fra Diavolo”, led lives that to this day are considered controversial.

It now falls to this writer the hapless task of telling the tale of one of our own who went down “the road less traveled” to a decidedly darker place in the chapters of history – among the creators of 20th century totalitarian movements. As the reader will soon see, this journey cost him friends, a loftier place in the history books, and eventually his life!

Giovanni Gentile was born in the town of Castelvetrano, Sicily on May 30th, 1875 to Theresa (née Curti) and Giovanni Gentile. Growing up, his grades were so good he earned a scholarship to the University of Pisa in 1893. Originally interested in literature, his soon turned to philosophy, thanks to the influence of Donato Jaja. Jaja in turn had been a student of the Abruzzi neo-Hegelian idealist Bertrando Spaventa (1817-1883). Jaja would “channel” the teachings of Spaventa to Gentile, upon whom they would find a fertile breeding ground.

During his studies he found himself inspired by notable pro-Risorgimento Italian intellectuals such as Giuseppe Mazzini, Antonio Rosmini-Serbati and Vincenzo Gioberti. However, he also found himself drawn to the works of German idealist and materialist philosophers like Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and especially Georg Hegel. He graduated from the University of Pisa with a degree in philosophy in 1897.

He completed his advanced studies at the University of Florence, eventually beginning his teaching career in the lyceum at Campobasso and Naples (1898-1906).

Benedetto Croce
Beginning in 1903, Gentile began an intellectual friendship with another noted philosopher from il sud: Benedetto Croce. The two men would edit the famed Italian literary magazine La critica from 1903-22. In 1906 Gentile was invited to take up the chair in the history of philosophy at the University of Palermo. During his time there he would write two important works: The Theory of Mind as Pure Act (1916) and Logic as Theory of Knowledge (1917). These works formed the basis for his own philosophy which he dubbed “Actual Idealism.”

Giovanni Gentile’s philosophy of Actual Idealism, like Marxism, recognized man as a social animal. Unlike the Marxists, however, who viewed community as a function of class identity, Gentile considered community a function of the culture and history in a nation. Actual Idealism (or Actualism) saw thought as all-embracing, and that no one could actually leave their sphere of thinking or exceed their own thought. This contrasted with the Transcendental Idealism of Kant and the Absolute Idealism of Hegel.

He would remain at the University of Palermo until 1914, when he was invited to the University of Pisa to fill the chair vacated by the death of his dear friend and mentor, Donato Jaja. In 1917, he wound up at the University of Rome, where in 1925 he founded the School of Philosophy. He would remain at the University until shortly before his murder.

After Italy’s humiliating defeat at the disastrous Battle of Caporetto in November, 1917, Gentile took a greater interest in politics. A devoted Nationalist and Liberal; he gathered a group of like-minded friends together and founded a review, National Liberal Politics, to push for political and educational reform.

Gentile’s writings and activism attracted the attention of future Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Immediately after his famous “March on Rome” at the end of October, 1922, Mussolini invited Gentile to serve in his cabinet as Minister of Public Instruction. He would hold this position until July, 1924. Surviving records show that on May 31st, 1923 Giovanni Gentile formally applied for membership in the partito nazionale fascista, the National Fascist Party of Italy.

With his new cabinet position Gentile was given full authority by Mussolini to reform the Italian educational system. On November 5th, 1923 he was appointed senator of the realm, a representative in the Upper House of the Italian Parliament. Gentile was now at the pinnacle of his political influence. With the power and prestige granted him by his new office, he began the first serious overhaul of public education in Italy since the Casati Law was passed in 1859.

Gentile saw in Mussolini’s authoritarianism and nationalism a fulfillment of his dream to rejuvenate Italian culture, which he felt was stagnating. Through this he hoped to rejuvenate the Italian “nation” as well. As Minister of Public Instruction Gentile worked laboriously for 20 months to reform what was most certainly an antiquated and backward system. Though successful in his endeavor, ironically, it was the enactment of his plan that caused his political influence to wane.

In spite of this, Mussolini continued to grant honors on him. In 1924, after resigning his post as Minister, “Il Duce” invited him to join the “Commission of Fifteen” and later the “Commission of Eighteen” basically in order to figure out how to make Fascism fit into the Albertine Constitution, the legal document that governed the state of Italy since its formation after the infamous Risorgimento in 1861.

On March 29th, 1925 the Conference of Fascist Culture was held at Bologna, in northern Italy. The précis of this conference was the document: the Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals. It was an affirmation of support for the government of Benito Mussolini, throwing a gauntlet down to critics who questioned Mussolini’s commitment to Italian culture. Among its signatories were Giovanni Gentile (who drew up the document), Luigi Pirandello (who wasn’t actually at the conference but publicly supported the document with a letter) and the Neapolitan poet, songwriter and playwright Salvatore Di Giacomo.

It was that last name that provoked a bitter dispute between Gentile and his erstwhile friend and mentor, Benedetto Croce. Responding with a document of his own on May 1st, 1925, the Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, Croce made public for all to see his irreconcilable split (which had been brewing for some time) with the Fascist Party of Italy…and Giovanni Gentile. In his document he dismissed Gentile’s work as “…a haphazard piece of elementary schoolwork, where doctrinal confusion and poor reasoning abound.” The two men would never collaborate again.

From 1925 till 1944 Gentile served as the scientific director of the Enciclopedia Italiana. In June of 1932 in Volume XIV he published, with Mussolini’s approval (and signature) and over the Roman Catholic Church’s objections, the Dottrina del fascismo (The Doctrine of Fascism). The first part of the Dottrina, written by Gentile, was his reconciling Fascism with his own philosophy of Actual Idealism, thereby forever equating the two.

Giovanni Gentile approved of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Though he found aspects of Hitler’s Nazism admirable, he disapproved of Mussolini allying Italy with Germany, believing Hitler’s intentions could not be trusted and that Italy would wind up becoming a vassal state. His views on this were shared by General Italo Balbo and Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law and Foreign Minister. Nevertheless, Gentile continued to support Mussolini. Since he recognized that Italy was a polity but not a nation in the true sense of the word, he believed “Il Duce’s” iron-fisted rule to be the only thing sparing the Italian pseudo-state from civil war.

With the collapse of Italy’s Fascist regime in September, 1943 and Mussolini’s rescue by Hitler’s forces, Gentile joined his emasculated master in exile at the so-called Italian Social Republic; an ad hoc puppet state created by Hitler in an ultimately futile attempt to shore up his rapidly crumbing 1,000-year Reich. Even then, he served as one of the principal intellectual defenders of what was obviously a failed political experiment.

On April 15, 1944 Professore Giovanni Gentile was murdered by Communist partisans led by one Bruno Fanciullacci. Ironically, he was gunned down leaving a meeting where he had argued for the release of a group of anti-Fascist intellectuals whose loyalty was suspect. He was buried in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence where his remains lie, perhaps fittingly, next to those of Florentine philosopher and writer Niccolò Machiavelli.

As one might imagine, after his death Gentile’s name was scorned if not forgotten entirely by historians. In recent years, however, scholars have begun to re-examine his legacy. Political theorist A. James Gregor (née Anthony Gimigliano), a recognized expert on Fascist and Marxist thought and himself an American of Southern Italian descent, believes that Gentile actually exerted a tempering influence on Italian Fascism’s proclivities towards violence as a political tool. This, he argues, is one (of several) of the reasons why Mussolini’s Italy never indulged in the more draconian excesses of Hitler’s regime.

Even his former friend and colleague Benedetto Croce later recognized the superior quality of Gentile’s scholarship and the quantity of his publications in the history of philosophy. Yet he differed sharply from him in political ideology and temperament. While both men forsook any loyalty to i Due Sicilie in favor of the pan-Italian illusion of the Risorgimento, they disagreed mightily as to the nature of the Italian state and to what course it should pursue.

For Gentile the actual idealist, the state was the supreme ethical entity; the individual existing merely to submit and merge his will and reason for being to it. Rebellion against the state in the name of ideals was therefore unjustifiable on any level. To Gentile, Fascism was the natural outgrowth of Actual Idealism.

Croce the neo-Kantian, on the other hand, argued forcefully the state was merely the sum of particular voluntary acts expressed by individuals (who were the center of society) and recorded in its laws. To Croce, Gentile’s metaphysical concepts regarding the state approached mysticism.

Thus, while both men have sadly been largely forgotten, even in the intellectual circles they once traversed, Croce’s legacy survives in a much better light than the man he once called friend.


Further reading:
  • A. James Gregor: Giovanni Gentile: Philosopher of Fascism; Transaction Publishers, 2001.
  • Giovanni Gentile and A. James Gregor (transl): Origins and Doctrine of Fascism: With Selections from Other Works; Transaction Publishers, 2002.
  • M.E. Moss: Mussolini’s Fascist Philosopher: Giovanni Gentile Reconsidered; Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2004.

May 28, 2010

More than a street name

Vittorio Positano (1833-1886)
The Sofia Echo's online newspaper, sofiaecho.com, has published an interesting article about Vittorio Positano and his heroic role in saving Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, from Ottoman destruction during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-'78). Reports that Positano was a follower of Garibaldi have not been substantiated. Please visit their website to read the whole story. [Ed.]

More than a street name

Ask Bulgarians what the name Positano means to them and most will say that this is the name of the street of the headquarters of the Bulgarian Socialist Party.


Unfortunately, few people today know much of the person whose memorial can be seen on the street bearing his name.

More than a century ago, this street was home to some of Sofia’s most important citizens. This was also the home of Italy’s vice-consul in Sofia, Vito Positano.

In the second half of the 19th century the historical and geographical location of Sofia (at the time under Ottoman rule) became attractive to major European powers. Three countries opened consulates in Sofia: the Austro-Hungarian empire, France and Italy. Continue reading

May 27, 2010

Battaglia di Bitonto 276° anniversario


Scenes from this years Battaglia di Bitonto commemoration in Bitonto, Puglia.
When hard times come to pass and we have yet to fully recover, it is natural for us to dwell on the sorrow surrounding our loss. It doesn’t matter if it was a century ago or yesterday, as other cultures around the world will attest to. It is equally important for us to remember what we were and celebrate the greatness and triumphs that came with it.

Bitonto has remembered their past and their greatness. On May 25th the annual celebration of the Battaglia di Bitonto reminds us of the events that restored the sovereignty of The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 276 years ago.

A brass band played and revelers waved Bourbon and regional flags and wore period costumes. The locals came out in force to participate. A wreath dedicated to Charles of Bourbon was placed on the great obelisk that he had constructed in honor of his victorious general, the Duke of Montemar.

This event is so special that it should not be limited to Bitonto. It should resonate with all Southern Italians who are proud of their heritage and be celebrated wherever our people may be. In order to support this wonderful event and the idea behind it we had our own gathering in Brooklyn, New York to commemorate the Battle of Bitonto and celebrate the culture and history of our people.

Submitted by Lucian
Scenes from this years Battaglia di Bitonto commemoration in Bitonto, Puglia.
Photos courtesy of Agostino Abbaticchio

May 25, 2010

Southern Italian Pride and Heritage

Il Regno's Battle of Bitonto Commemoration a success
With showers in the forecast and ominous clouds in the sky, it looked as if Brooklyn's Second Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration was going to be postponed. However, luck was on our side. The sun’s rays broke through the clouds, diminishing the threat of rain and allowing the event to go on as planned.
I'm happy to report that we had over twice as many people participate than last year, with supporters making the trek to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn from as far away as New Jersey, Staten Island and Long Island. The national and regional flags of Southern Italy were festively on display, and buttons, fliers and t-shirts were distributed, generating interest from the spectators and passersby.

The commemoration recalls the military victory of Charles of Bourbon over the Austrian Hapsburgs on May 25th, 1734 at Bitonto (near Bari in the Southern Italian region of Puglia). The Bourbon triumph led to the restoration of the independent and sovereign Southern Italian nation, The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Similar to last year, our bocce tournament was held with several teams vying for bragging rights. After a number of hard-fought matches, Mike and Tom from Staten Island were crowned this year's champions. They impressively went through the competition undefeated.

A raffle was held to help raise money for the Italian American Museum in New York's Little Italy. This year's prizes were a Concertos for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies CD (Helios), a bottle of Liquore Strega and a $50 gift certificate for Joes on Ave U, an authentic focacceria Palermitana.

I would especially like to thank Eddie (“Koz”) for generously supplying pizza and beverages for the participants.

It also needs to be pointed out that Franky “Shades” and several of his buddies have been laboriously restoring the bocce courts over the past few weeks. Without their selfless dedication and hard work there would have been no games. The city has shamefully neglected the maintenance of these courts, allowing them to deteriorate over the years and preventing people from playing. The lads provided a wonderful community service.

We had so much fun that plans of forming a local bocce club is in the works.

Il Regno remains dedicated to the preservation of our culture and our heritage.

Remember Bitonto!

Charles of Bourbon, Palazzo Reale, Napoli 
(Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
By Giovanni di Napoli

May 25th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Bitonto (1734), the key engagement between the Spanish Bourbons and Austrian Hapsburgs over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1738).  The battle and its aftermath (the Treaty of Vienna) brought Austrian rule in Southern Italy to an end and won "the most beautiful crown in Italy" for Charles of Bourbon, the eldest child of King Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese.

The Duke of Montemar, 
José Carrillo de Albornoz
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Under the command of Captain General José Carrillo de Albornoz, the Count of Montemar, the Bourbon forces defeated the Austrians (who had ruled Naples since 1707 and Sicily from 1720) on the field of battle near Bitonto in Puglia. For his part, Count José Carrillo de Albornoz was made a Duke. A towering obelisk was constructed in the town square in his honor and to commemorate the victory. 

After 230 years of provincial servitude to Spain and Austria, Charles of Bourbon, "The great restorer of the kingdom," made the Regno an independent and sovereign state once again. The Bourbon dynasty ruled the Southern Kingdom for 126 years until 1860, when Victor Emanuel II of Savoy conquered and annexed it to the nascent Kingdom of Italy.

Amended on May 25, 2012

For more see: 

May 23, 2010

Il Maggio di San Giuliano

The Marriage of Trees and the Feast of Saint Giuliano

Men scaling the Maggio.
(Photo courtesy of www.ilmaggiodiaccettura.it)
By Giovanni di Napoli

May 23rd-25th, 2010*
Accettura, Basilicata (Lucania)
Remote Accettura lies in the rugged Southern Italian hinterland of Matera, a province in the region of Basilicata also called Lucania. The small hilltop town boasts one of the oldest festivals in Italy, il Maggio di Accettura.

Some say the Maggio, or May Festival, predates the classical era by at least a millennia. Because of its similarities with the Germanic Maypole, others claim the Lombards introduced it. Whatever its source, like many other holidays, the pagan roots of this ancient fertility rite have been integrated into the Christian observance. Unable to extinguish this popular tradition it has simply been coated with a Christian veneer. In a medley of faiths, "The Marriage of Trees" is now associated with Accettura's patron saint, San Giuliano and the celebration of the Pentecost.

Beginning on Ascension Day (or Holy Thursday), a group of woodsmen search for and cut down the tallest and straightest tree they can find from nearby Montepiano. Called the "Maggio," the hewed tree is carried back to town on a train of oxen. At the same time another group of men cut down a smaller tree from nearby Gallipoli Cognato, the forest on the opposite side of Accettura. This tree, called the "Cima," is carried back on the shoulders of the townsmen.

The felled trees—representing the King and Queen of the forest—are ritualistically united in the town square. Pruned and smoothed (except for the top of the Cima, which is decorated with paper streamers), the trees are vertically affixed to one-another in a symbolic wedding. The towering couple are then raised upright.

Under the watchful eyes of San Giuliano, a procession of women wearing folk costumes and elaborate hats decorated with giant votive candles parade through town. The revelers feast, dance and sing with great joy around the giant totem. Some of the more daring youths scale the newlyweds and perform dangerous acrobatic feats. Near the end of the festivities, marksmen compete for prizes by shooting down the Cima's streamers and decorations. 

The next morning the tree is toppled and cheering villagers rush to get a sprig for good luck.

The annual ceremony will help ensure the Accetturesi a bountiful harvest and great fecundation.

* * *

A similar celebration called the Festa della Pita is observed in Alessandria del Carretto, a small town in the province of Cosenza in Calabria. On the last Sunday in April* a large fir tree is cut down and carried to the town's main square, piazza San Vincenzo. The tree is shorn, smoothed and rubbed down with animal fat. On May 3rd, with much fanfare (food, music, fireworks, etc.), it's raised upright. The origin of the festival is lost in antiquity, but today its performed in honor of the town's patron saint, Sant' Alessandro Papa Martire. Scenes of this wonderful celebration were captured in Michelangelo Frammartino's avant-garde film, Le quattro Volte (2010).

* Il Regno cannot be held responsible for changes in dates or venues so please be sure to confirm with the organizers.
Amended on April 27, 2012

May 17, 2010

People of First Class

Notable Mathematicians of Southern Italian Origin

By Niccolò Graffio
“There are many categories of scientists, people of second and third rank, who do their best, but do not go very far. There are also people of first class, who make great discoveries, which are of capital importance for the development of science. But then there are the geniuses, like Galilei and Newton. Well, Ettore was one of these.” – Enrico Fermi
Ettore Majorana
The "Ettore" Fermi was speaking about was of course, the eminent Sicilian physicist Ettore Majorana. Fermi was heaping praise on the intellectual accomplishments of his late colleague. While Fermi’s categorization of scientists is admittedly an oversimplification, it does serve to point out one sad fact about them. All too often it’s only the “greats” in the world of the sciences whose names find their way into the collective memory of the masses (thanks to good press).

For example: you’d be pressed to find anyone in America today who hasn’t at least heard the names of people like Archimedes, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and ‘Madame’ Marie Curie, even if most of them don’t know exactly what it was these people did that landed them in the history books.

Of course, being a great scientist or mathematician is no guarantee of widespread fame. This writer finds it bewildering that to this day most Americans he meets with college degrees confess to being unfamiliar with the name of the renowned German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss! Throw the names of some “B-list” entertainers and/or sports figures at them, however, and more often than not the light of recognition quickly sparks in their eyes. Ours is truly a society of inverted and peculiar values.

I digress. My point is simply this: there are many scientists and mathematicians, who, although not in the category of people like Einstein or Newton, nonetheless are deserving of honorable mention for the important contributions they made in the advancement of the sciences. This article makes mention of three of them, who are all the more deserving of our respect and recognition because, like us, they were children of the lands that made up the late Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Let no one ever tell you otherwise, people: we have contributed!

Francesco Maurolico
Francesco Maurolico was born in the city of Messina, Sicily on September 16th, 1494 to a family of Greek origin. He learned Greek, mathematics and astronomy from his father, Antonio, who in turn had been a pupil of the famous Greek scholar Constantine Lascaris. He took holy orders in 1521 and entered the Benedictine Order in 1550, becoming a monk at the monastery of Santa Maria del Parto à Castelbuono. Two years later he was consecrated as abbot at the Cattedrale San Nicolò di Messina.

In 1569 he was appointed professor at the University of Messina. Among his works were the following:
  • His Arithmeticorum libri duo (1575) includes the first known proof by mathematical induction.
  • He published a methodology for measuring the earth, which was used about a hundred years later (1670) by the French astronomer Jean-Felix Picard (not Jean-Luc Picard!) to measure the meridian.
  • His astronomical observations include sighting of the supernova that appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572. Tycho Brahe published details of his sighting in 1574.
  • He worked on numerous ancient Greek mathematical texts, providing new and sound interpretations of Greek mathematics.
He died in Messina, Sicily in July, 1575. The lunar crater Maurolycus is named in honor of him.

Giuseppe Lauricella was born in the city of Agrigento, Sicily in 1867. He studied at the University of Pisa where his professors included Luigi Bianchi, Ulisse Dini and Vito Volterra. He is remembered for his contributions to analysis (ex: Lauricella’s theorem) and the theory of elasticity.

In 1893 he defined and studied four hypergeometric series of three variables. He also indicated the existence of ten other hypergeometric functions of three variables. These were named and studied by S. Saran in 1954. There are therefore a total of 14 Lauricella-Saran hypergeometric functions.

Sadly, he died in Catania, Sicily from scarlet fever at the age of 45 in 1913.

Francesco Paolo Cantelli
Francesco Paolo Cantelli was born in Palermo, Sicily on December 20th, 1875. He attended the University of Palermo, graduating with a degree in mathematics in 1899. His thesis was on celestial mechanics.

His early work was in astronomy involving statistical analysis of data, in particular the statistical style of mathematics and to applications of probability to astronomy and other areas. In 1903 took a job as an actuary at the Istituti di Previdenza where he undertook research into probability theory publishing some important papers.

In 1925 Cantelli was called to Naples where he taught actuarial and financial mathematics. From 1931 he was professor at the University of Rome where he remained for the rest of his life, retiring from his chair in 1951.

He is chiefly remembered for important contributions he made to actuarial science, the foundations of probability theory and to the clarification of different types of probabilistic convergence. However, he also did research in financial mathematics as well. He died in Rome, Italy on July 21st, 1966.

May 16, 2010

Hero or Villain?

Portrait bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi
Garibaldi-Mucci Museum, Staten Island, NY
"To commemorate Garibaldi's landings is a bit like a rape victim lauding the man who assaulted her." — Filippo Spadafora, Giuseppe Garibaldi — Man and Myth
In memory of the 150th anniversary of General Garibaldi's invasion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Best of Sicily Magazine recently published an excellent article by historian Filippo Spadafora entitled “Giuseppe Garibaldi — Man and Myth.” It is a rare account of the "Hero of the Two Worlds," covering many of the freebooter’s exploits and exploding the various myths surrounding this once untouchable pillar of United Italy. Please take the time to read it.

May 14, 2010

Curva Sud: Final Week (2009/10)


Like all good things, the 2009/10 Serie A campaign is coming to an end. With only one week remaining the South can hold its head high. Our teams—Palermo, Napoli, Bari and Catania—have all avoided relegation, plus two—Palermo and Napoli—reached Europe. If both Napoli and Palermo win this weekend the Sicilians, instead of Sampdoria, will reach the coveted Champions League.

Unfortunately, with the exception of Palermo's clash against lowly Atalanta the rest of the games involving the South will be mere formalities. I know Napoli's away match against Sampdoria affects Palermo's chances of winning fourth position, but I don't expect the Vesuviani to do the Sicilians any favors. Sampdoria are good, they'll be at home and they’re hungry. Napoli, on the other hand, has already secured themselves a spot in Europa and has little left to play for. This will be the only time this season I predict a Napoli defeat. 

I know the teams will say all the right things about competing and playing to the end, but we all know that human nature will come into play. Believe me, as a fan there is nothing I want more than to see Napoli beat Sampdoria, however unlikely. I'm not suggesting throwing the game or corruption, just a lack of motivation. Napoli has nothing to gain or to lose, and it isn't personal like it would be against Roma.

This, of course, will never be admitted. Calcio is a business and admitting this would be bad for business. Consider the public shock and indignation by the pundits over the behavior of the Lazio fans during their recent match against Inter. In case you don't know, Inter and Roma are competing for the Scudetto and Roma and Lazio are bitter rivals. Lazio were playing Inter and their fans were rooting against their own team just to spite Roma. It must be remembered that as much as their fans love Lazio, they love to hate Roma. It might have been in poor taste, but since Lazio was out anyway, their thinking made sense in a strictly Machiavellian way. I don't know whether to condemn their audacity or be amused by their fanatical "scorched-earth" mindset.

This reminds me a little of Diego Maradona's petition for Napoli fans to support Argentina over the Azzurri during a 1990 FIFA World Cup match played in Naples, Italy. His brazenness caused a huge uproar in Italy, but who can blame him for trying. In Italy, club comes before country because our regions are our true nations. Naples owes Italy nothing. In my eyes, Italy is no different than Tito's Yugoslavia: an artificial state made up disparate peoples propped up with bayonets

Looking back on the season, we can also take great pleasure in knowing that the South was primarily responsible for Juventus' failure. In eight clashes against Southern teams the Old Lady took only four points out of a possible twenty-four, with six losses and one win. Revenge is sweet.


Forza Lecce!
With only two matches left in Serie B, league leaders, U.S. Lecce, are poised to make their triumphant return to top-flight calcio. The Salentini need only one win or two draws to clinch promotion. Considering how Serie B is dominated by Northern clubs (the only other Southern team of note in the cadetti is F.C. Crotone, from Calabria) this will be a great achievement. I look forward to their return.

Good luck Lecce! And good luck Palermo; I hope Napoli surprise us all.

Avanti Sud!

By New York Scugnizzo


Round 38 results (added May 16, 2010):

Atalanta — Palermo 1-2
Bari — Fiorentina 2-0
Catania ‚ Genoa 1-0
Sampdoria — Napoli 1-0