(IT version


Naples is among the most densely populated cities in Europe.  From any panoramic point one can witness an apparently endless succession of buildings and church domes, often sitting precariously on the side of the hills that make up the city’s geography.


The Bagnoli district, however, is a remarkable exception. In a matter of a mere pedestrian crossing, a relatively sprawling residential neighbourhood suddenly turns into a barren wasteland reminiscent of post-apocalyptic fiction developed just in the space of a two-way road, surrounded by walls which reveal from time to time glimpses of skeletons made of steel and concrete.


The remnants of Bagnoli steel factories. From its inauguration in 1910 to its final demise in 2000 with the sale of its last components to Thai investors, this industrial district played a large part in shaping Naples’ social and economic landscape, going through two world wars, the post-war economic boom, and the transition to the dominance of service-based industries in the Western world. However, since its closure in 1994, virtually nothing has changed, both from a visual and from a social point of view. To the detriment of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and of those who looked after its reconversion.

For most of its history, the Bagnoli steel complex provided its workers the security of a steady income in the present and pension benefits for the future, even more so when it became a state industry, part of the strategy devised after the war that sought to increase the national steel productivity by direct control of the government (by the in-famous “Ministry for State Holdings”). Together with Bagnoli there where Genoa, Piombino, and Taranto in the early sixties, when the original ILVA (company founded in 1905 and named after the Latin name for Elba island) fused into Italsider in 1961.


For these reasons, working at the factory became for most young men the greatest ambition, a guaranteed way to enter the ever-growing ranks of the middle class and upwards social mobility, especially for those who endured the hardships and deprivation during the war and Nazi occupation. During the years, among families from Bagnoli and surrounding neighbourhoods and towns (Fuorigrotta, Cavalleggeri Aosta, Agnano, and Pozzuoli) a family member working in the factories (or ‘O Cantiere - construction site - in Neapolitan) became a common denominator. A common reminiscence among older Bagnolese is of the sirens that announced the various working turns (“we lived with the sirens...”).


However, for a long time the workers and their families were seemingly unconcerned of the health hazards linked with living in such close quarters with a source of pollution - although veterans often instructed the newbies on how to protect themselves from pollution and blankets hanging from windows had to be re-washed when the wind brought the smoke from the factories.

When environmental issues began to enter public debate, the oxymoron between economic welfare and public health safety became even more apparent.


As the closure of the factory becomes an event further back in history, fewer and fewer of the inhabitants have direct memories of the years in which the steel mill was in full operation, especially those who were born during its very last years.


The vast majority of them have a relative who worked there, thus enjoying the relative prosperity brought by those jobs or indirectly reliving those years with the testimony of their fathers or grandfathers, who often draw parallels between ‘those days’ and today situation, in which the demise of the factory effectively created an occupational vacuum where the younger generations carry the heaviest burden.


Once, the families of the neighbourhood often pushed their sons and daughters towards higher education in hopes of getting employed in the industrial complex. Today, as the fate of the area is still unknown, the rate of unemployment rises, and more and more young people seek their fortune elsewhere, leaving behind a situation in which the pensions of the former workers are the main source of sustenance for entire families.


Among most of them, regardless of their memories of the past, the main concern is about the future. Unable for reasons out of their control to preserve a continuity that dates back since the beginning of the twentieth century, which saw three generations employed at the same place, often look with distrust at the local and national politics, guilty of letting the situation stall - nearly every intervention towards the reconversion of the area, save for the reconstruction of the Northern pier and Città della Scienza (a private investment), has been utterly unsuccessful.


More than one hundred years ago the construction of the Bagnoli industrial complex was decided in order to provide a solution to the seemingly endless poverty that plagued Naples and its surrounding at least since the unification under the Italian kingdom. For most of its history, the steel mill managed to accomplish its mission - together with similar experiences on the other side of the Vesuvius, like the shipbuilding industries in Castellammare di Stabia and Torre del Greco, pasta manufacturing in Torre Annunziata and the Sarno valley - by providing stability in a difficult region like Southern Italy, even though they proved to be a quite fragile context.

On certain aspects, the Bagnoli experience was an exception. Its social model proved to resist better as the heavy industry in general began to fall during the beginning of the ‘80s, as the development of a working-class ethic managed to create a ‘social bloc’ which contributed to lessen the degenerative process associated with the crisis. In fact, as it was already renowned as a place with a lower crime rate than the rest of the city, it never saw the violent resurgence of organized crime that plagued the rest of the region.


Like for many problems in Southern Italy, solutions are often found by taking advantage of its hidden potentials often neglected for lack of initiative or political competence.


In the case of Bagnoli however, an enormous ground zero left abandoned for close than twenty years, the negligence reaches macroscopic proportions.


This project aims to narrate this social fallout.


Project selected among the finalists at Premio Canon Giovani Fotografi 2018.

Le rovine dell’Acciaieria LD vista dalla collina di Posillipo. Costruita nel 1964, permise un aumento esponenziale della produzione dell’acciaio. ​

The ruins of the LD steel mill seen from Posillipo Hill. Built in 1964, it allowed an exponential increase in steel production.

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Vita quotidiana sul lido Coroglio. Sullo sfondo i resti della Cementir/Eternit. ​

Daily life on Lido Coroglio. In the background the remains of Cementir/Eternit factories.

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La fermata di Agnano della linea Cumana, molto frequentata per la presenza di due scuole superiori e della facoltà di ingegneria dell’università Federico II. A poca distanza l’area dismessa e la Porta del Parco. ​

The Agnano stop of the Cumana suburban line, mostly used by the pupils of two high school and the students enrolled in the engineering faculty at "Federico II" Naples' University. In the distance the industrial ruins and the "Porta del Parco".

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L’elmetto del sig. Liborio Fusco, conservato nel suo ufficio nel quartiere Bagnoli.

Mr. Liborio Fusco's working helmet, in his office in Bagnoli neighbourhood.

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Il signor Sigillo mentre mostra la foto di gruppo degli ex lavoratori dell’Ilva Italsider, in mezzo a un collage dedicato a commemorare la storia sociale del Circolo Ilva. ​

Mr. Sigillo showing a group picture of former steelworkers at Ilva-Italsider, among a collage commemorating the history of Circolo Ilva.

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Il sig. Mario Sigillo posa sulle ringhiere antistanti il fronte mare del Circolo Ilva. Classe 1954, entra nella fabbrica nel 1970 con una ditta appaltatrice; nel 1977 è inquadrato nell’Ilva, dove è impiegato fino al 2001.

Mr. Mario Sigillo posing on the Circolo Ilva waterfront. Born in 1954, he entered the factory in 1970 as a contractor; in 1977 he is employed at Ilva, retiring in 2001. Lately he has been acting in the play "Il Bugiardino: istruzioni per l'uso", directed by Alfonso D'Auria, on the life as a steelworker in Ilva and its contradictions.

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Luigi, membro della sezione di canottaggio del Circolo Ilva, mentre posa nel deposito delle imbarcazioni. ​

Luigi, a young member of the Circolo Ilva rowing club, posing in the boats deposit.

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Gli istruttori della sezione di Judo del Circolo Ilva durante un incontro dimostrativo sul ring di lotta libera del Circolo. ​

Circolo Ilva's judo club instructors during a exhibition fight on the wrestling ring.

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Il sig. Franco Iorio posa nella piazzetta del bar del Circolo Ilva. Nato nel 1939, entra in fabbrica nel 1959 come assistente a turno dell’impianto di laminazione, e va in pensione nel 1990.

Mr. Franco Iorio posing in front of the Circolo Ilva tennis court. Born in 1939, he enters the factory in 1959 in the lamination facility as an assistant, retiring in 1990. Lately he has been acting in the play "Il Bugiardino: istruzioni per l'uso", directed by Alfonso D'Auria, on the life as a steelworker in Ilva and its contradictions.

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La candela coke del centro siderurgico vista dalla stanza di logopedia del centro GIFFAS (Gruppo Italsider
Famiglie Fanciulli e Adulti Speciali) Onlus, fondato nel 1973.

The steel mill's coke candle seen from the speech therapy room of GIFFAS (Gruppo Italsider Famiglie Fanciulli e Adulti Speciali) Center ONLUS founded in 1973 from a collective subscription of the steelworkers, for the rehabilitation of handicapped individuals.

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Il Lido Pola presenta un calendario di varie attività culturalmente orientate. Qui un momento del corso di tammorra napoletanta, nella sala grande dello spazio.

The Lido Pola social center features a schedul of culturally oriented activities. Here we can see a moment of the Neapolitan Tammorra course, in the main hall of the center.

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Una scolaresca si ferma davanti alla cupola del Planetario, a Città della Scienza.

Schoolchidren rest in front of the Planetarium, in Città della Scienza, the science museum built on part of the former factory.

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Acque termali che sgorgano da uno tubo di scarico e si riversano nello specchio d’acqua antistante il Circolo Ilva. L’intera area è rinomata sin dai tempi antichi per le sue acque termali, trovandosi nel bacino dei Campi Fleg

Thermal waters flowing to the Circolo Ilva seafront. The whole area is renowned since ancient times for its thermal springs, due to the presence of the Phlegrean Fields.

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Un momento del corso di pattinaggio artistico al Circolo Ilva, indirizzato alle ​bambine e alle ragazze.

Young girls practicing rollerskating at Circolo Ilva.

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Le ciminiere della Cementir/Eternit al crepuscolo, viste dal Lido Pola.

The chimneys of Cementir/Eternit at dusk, seen from Lido Pola.

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