Perzechella Cultural Association was born in 2007 out of the Chocolate Shoppe owned and operated at the time by Giuseppina (Pina) Andelora since 1995. Her Chocolate Shoppe was not just another store but a temple to Neapolitan life and culture. The opening of the association coincided with the closure of the shop, unsustainable due to the debt crisis of 2008.
Pina “Perzechella” Andelora has always been active and present in the neighborhood, the heart of Naples, becoming an important reference point for all the kids of the area and their families. Among the many things she was able to create are teaching laboratories on the art of chocolate-making, through which she transmits a pride of place to Neapolitan children, instilling in them a sense of belonging and identity. Other teaching workshops that have become a resource for all children and their families in the center of Naples include: “Be a tourist in your own city”, “’Nguacchiammece ‘e mmane’”, “Little Women Grow Up”, “Nun Faccimm Tarantelle”, and many others.
Vico Pazzariello A.R.T.S. is a cutural association of street artists constituted under this name in 2010. Before that since its founding in 1997, it went by the name “Carovana d’arte antica e persa” and then “Carovana del Circo Immaginario”. It is a community project that works to promote and protect folk arts, including circus, street performing and music. Among its objectives, reclaiming musical and theatrical traditions and building a better world. In October of 2010, they inaugurated their spaces in Vico Pazzariello, 11, in the heart of the historical center of Naples.
With their new location, they took on a more stable presence even though they continue to roam the streets of Naples, Campania and the rest of Italy performing. With their premises, they are able to offer services and artistic opportunities to the families of the neighborhood, particularly those who are socio-economically marginalized. They created a network entitled “Je sto vicino a te” (I’m with you) which they define as “a pact between cultural associations and the realities of the center of Naples, like scholastic dispersion and poor education. With “Neorealist Tourism” they create, promote and perform street art and musical programs with the participation of local children, their families, shopkeepers and other local residents in order to counterbalance the negative effects of gentrification and ‘ultra’-tourism.
The cultural association, in addition, produces, promotes and puts on performances for public and private events, creating a network of collaborating artists from all over the city. Offering a place to stay and a hot meal to those passing hard times, it has become a port of call for street artists from all over the world who, disembarking in Naples, find a home and a family.
Pina “Perzechella” Andelora and Angelo “ ’O Capitano” Picone became engaged to be married at the inauguration ceremony of the Vico Pazzariello A.R.T.S. foundation on October 28, 2010. Angelo, struck by Pina, whom he had met some days earlier, dedicated a serenade to her. Since that night, they’ve lived and worked together, building a strong bond of love and folk culture. They invented various forms of entertainment and education, putting in place various initiatives of solidarity for the neighborhood, especially for kids from socially and economically disadvantaged families.
Il Panaro Solidale – The Solidarity Basket The word “panaro” means basket in the Neapolitan dialect, which more than a dialect can really be considered a second Italian language, commonly spoken in Naples but also, in various forms, all around the South of Italy over which Naples reigned once as glorious capital. Ancient words dance through the alleyways of the heart of Naples, founded by the Greeks over 2,500 years ago. And ancient are many of the gestures one finds still among the residents, like dropping the “panaro” from apartments above street level to collect the day’s shopping from the deli. The use of the ‘panaro’ alleviates residents from carrying their wares up many flights of stairs in buildings without lifts, and makes it so parents and grandparents can do the day’s shopping without leaving the house and their (once numerous) children. In the heart of Naples, in the midst of the Coronavirus-induced lockdown, which in this city brought mourning together with a worsening an already precarious economic state of affairs for many families, the “panaro” has once again become symbol of hope and solidarity, thanks to Pina Andelora (aka Perzechella, Little Peach) and Angelo Picone (also known as Il Capitano).
On their balcony, just steps away from the beautiful church and cloister of Santa Chiara, they saw one of the neighborhood’s homeless peole walk by. They asked him, “are you hungry?” and in a moment’s notice, they lowered their “panaro” with a steaming hot bowl of pasta for him. Word got out and by that evening, the number of friends to feed had already grown; proving there are places where hunger is more frightening than the virus. Angelo and Pina had an idea: they borrowed a line from Giuseppe Moscati, famous Neaopolitan doctor who took care of the poor free of charge during the two wars, and wrote it on a sign affixed to the “panaro”: “those who can, donate; those who can’t, take”. In no time the basket became a giving tree, filling up and emptying out of bread, pasta, and all sorts of non-perishables. This spontaneous gesture of theirs was photographed and filmed by Italian press and shown around the world as a symbol of re-found sense of humanity. Neapolitans are not strangers to hunger. All they needed was an outlet for their enormously generous collective soul and Pina and Angelo provided that for them: the solidarity basket was born! Pina and Angelo are not new to kind and giving gestures.
Their two associations, “Il Teatrino di Perzechella” and “Vico Pazzariello” have always provided for the neighborhood, setting a place for a friend in need.
Both of these small cultural centers, covering just a few square meters adorned with so much creativity and artistic flare, are always open. Vico Pazzariello is home to street performers from all over the world who visit Naples and sometimes stay. Teatrino di Perzechella provides a place for many artists in Neapolitan theatre and song whose work doesn’t reach the larger theatres. Let’s give back a little of the joy that Pina and Angelo have been sharing for years. The Covid19 lockdown has hit theatre and tourism hard; so many whose livelihoods rely on the presence of tourists risk closing down. The drama within the drama is that, without them, Naples would lose two of the most authentic representations of Neapolitan tradition: I know first-hand, having taken students and visitors to experience their hospitality and work for 10 years, that there is no artifice to what they do, nothing “touristy” in their way of performing and welcoming visitors. Pina and Angelo, a partnership in life and in work, are simply the most spontaneous and most joyous representation of all the good Naples has to offer, which in this case combines extraordinary artistic ability with generosity of spirit for the common good.
I’m asking you to donate, as much as you can, with your heart and soul to this cause. Note: your donations translate into vouchers for future use: 10 Euro will get you a ‘souvenir’ opera from Maestro di Napoli 20 Euro will buy you a seat at our dinner or lunch theatre 50 Euro will pay for a double room in our special and unique B&B in Vico Pazzariello, 11 100 Euro will pay for five people to take a guided theatre walk dedicated to the late, great Neapolitan musician, Pino Daniele 200 Euro will pay for a special balcony serenade, outside of Naples 300 Euro you’ll play Tombola del Capitano in a private home outside of Naples 500 Euro pays for an entire Musical and Theatrical production 1000 Euro pays for “Gran Varietà”, a private event full of theatre and musical arts, involving many performers For those who are not Neapolitans, this provides you with the perfect excuse for your next adventure! In closing, if you donate, Pina and Angelo will, in turn, donate to the many street performers who are such a vital part of Naples’ rich and colorful fabric.
Text by: Alberto Corbino, president of Fondazione Cariello Corbino
Thanks to Tina M. Rocchio for the translation