Italy

Naples, the Priest of Rione Sanità

The rebirth of a neighbourhood plagued by crime

Rione Sanità is a historical and vibrant area of Naples which is particularly renowned for the strong influence exerted by the Camorra mafia organisation in the area. However, in recent years, the priest Antonio Loffredo, together with a group of young people, has created a cooperative that has enabled the reopening of the magnificent catacombs of San Gennaro and San Gaudioso, providing employment for around forty young people in an area beset by high levels of unemployment.


Spinning off from this central core, a number of social and artistic activities have been instigated to revitalise the neighbourhood, with beauty being the start point. And so, with many young people from the area, an orchestra was born – Sanità Ensemble – and so was a theatre company – Nuovo Teatro Sanità – plus a recording studio located inside the Basilica di San Severo and several street artists have painted on many of the district’s houses.


Don Antonio also recently welcomed a very talented young sculptor back from New York, Jago, who installed one of his latest works – the ‘veiled son’ which is inspired by the famous ‘Veiled Christ’ – in a beautiful chapel located in the district. The priest also made an abandoned church available to him for his next work, which is inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà.

The Sanità district also never forgets the ‘last of the last’ and every day provides food for a hundred homeless people through the ‘La Tenda’ project, and offers an alternative to prison for a number of inmates who are given the opportunity to stay at the ‘Liberi di volare’ (‘Free to fly’) refuge.