So I'm barrelling down the Autostrada from my workplace of Pietrelcina, going to a trade fair in Napoli. I have been loaned out for the day to a sister company, and at the fair I have to translate on the fly to hapless Europeans and Americans unable to grok Italian.

I hate Naples with a passion. The city is unimaginably dirty, smelly, and everyone in my region of Campania seems to think Napoli is just the dog's bollocks. The women are nice enough, I suppose, but the men are constantly trying to screw one another and you over and I am not looking forward to this at all.

Politically, Napoli is a moderate's nightmare. Within the city proper, unemployment is unbelievably high, and politics tend to be of a virulently left / anarchist bent. Outside of Napoli itself, the populace leans quite visibly to the right, often expressing nostalgia for the Fascist era.

In fact, the head of the sister company I'm working for today has a bust of Benito on his desk. He and I are constantly arguing -- good-naturedly -- about why the other is wrong about his politics.

It's springtime, and every year at about this time for the next four months the rubbish collectors will go on strike and turn the city into a stinking pile and firetrap.

So I'm trying to see reasons why I should think of Naples as kinda interesting, or at least less than utterly shit, when I see some graffiti spray-painted on a pullover spot:

    Dio c'è

Computer typesetting and HTML are wonderful things, they don't even begin to convey just how grotesquely these characters are scrawled on this sign.

OK. 'There is God' ... And?

I ask my driving companion, What's this? To which he explains, well, you know the Mafia, right? Of course. And la Camorra? Uh, yeah, them too. So?

'La Camorra has painted these signs to put the frighteners into travellers that they are being watched.'

Oh. Another half-hour passes by, and as we enter the city proper, I notice Dio c'è signs sprayed about every 30 seconds.

'Doesn't this bother you at all, that the Mafia have this crap everywhere?'
'Of course it does. But what can I do?'

So we enter the downtown core and make our way down to the docks, not far from the convention centre.

As we do, I notice astonishing amounts of graffiti scrawled just about everywhere. And rubbish, and the smell.

NATO assassins
Long live the Red Brigades
Kill the bankers
Vattene via (Get out of here) Berlusconi, you crook!
Che lives!!

(In English) US out of Iraq

And then I see, and then I understand:

    Dio non c'è


Note: Vorbis tells me out by Padova friendly helpful pushers and/or users use the original Mafia variant to indicate places to buy, in the Hicksian phrase, 'good shit'.

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