Day five: Daytime in Pigneto

This morning my direction is clear. I want to map the atmosphere in the “pedestrian island” of Pigneto. Market is already open, people go to their well known vendors and buy fruit and vegetable. Quality is great and prices are convenient. Those who already made their shopping can sit calmly and enjoy their sweet breakfast. Retired residents, students but also those who start at work later, the morning coffee is sacred.

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I join the table of Gabriela who’s taking care of her grandson and chatting with a friend. Ladies what do you think about the vivid nighttime in this neighbourhood?

Oh God it’s a disaster! Especially few years ago it was a real catastrophe for us. After 6PM I was afraid to go out. During the day it’s lovely here, even in the afternoon.. I go to take my grandson from school and it’s all calm. But in the night this place becomes another world, mainly young women are completely drunk sitting on the benches!”

What about the morning market?

“Before it was full of schops, there was a butchers, lady selling clothes, you could find everything here. They all disappeared, now we have to go to other parts to get this. But for the fruit and veg we always shop here. People are selling their own products, I know what I’m buying. But also the market itself used to be much bigger! Then they turned this place into pedestrian island so cars cannot enter anymore. And all the shops were replaced by bars and restaurants

“We meet here only during the day and we live further away so we are not disturbed by the noise. But I feel so sorry for my friends that live here and cannot sleep in the night. Fortunately, I have to say, It has all changed with a new mayor, we have signed a petition and its two years already that it has calmed down significantly.“

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Do you ever participate at the community events?

“I know that people are organizing various nice events here. Although I never go there, it’s too late for me and I prefer to stay home with my husband. But those who have remained alone they like to go out and meet other people.

Day four: All that glitters is not gold

I dedicate this day to see parts of Pigneto that I don’t know yet. I don’t ride my bike the quickest or the nicest way, I try to get intentionally lost. I am observing the urban structure, village looking low rise houses mix with mid rise mass housing. I never know what to expect turning in one of the hundreds one-way streets.

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Very soon I find a market which existence was hidden from me. The market reminds me more of a Viennese style markets or the ones I know from other parts of Europe. It is organised within a courtyard, the stands are officially established, but at least half them is closed.

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I talk to couple of vendors and apparently the rent is too high and customers are not many. Outside of the courtyard there is a woman selling garlic without any licence.

“Before I also had stand inside. But I was paying more than I could earn.. “

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Another pair of randomly chosen turns and I find myself in front of Parco Nuccitelli. The fence is covered by numerous posters that catch my attention.

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Translation (short version)  

“ALL TOGETHER FOR PIGNETO!

NUCCITELLI-PERSIANI: PUBLIC SQUARE!

FREE USE AND FREE ACCESS!

The administration of municipality has expressed a negative statement to a proposal of “ urban regeneration” that came from the owner of the new bar: we will keep this position and we want to make it respected in its all content.

The one that speaks about the “regeneration” or “development” will in reality use this place and its surroundings as another of many bars that will attract hundreds of clients during the day but mostly during the night!

We want to defend ourselves from the decay and from the wild nightlife that would eventually invade even this part of Pigneto.

With this cheat of “regeneration” we could completely forget our constitutional right to silent hours and the quality of the dignified life.  …

We demand the respect for the residents of Pigneto.

The next meeting 21st September. 

People that regenerate the neighborhood are these who live here, not those who want to commercialize it! “

So this is something interesting! An event I cannot miss.

 

I enter the park to speak to two man swinging their kids and they explain me more:

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“I was born here so I can tell all the changes this place went through! This used to be a quarter for poor people! Even if some of them were drug addicts it was still nicer than now. People came and build their houses from bricks, there was no plan for this area, just look around – each house is different… But now these houses are worth fortune, people are selling them and so they turn into BnB or bars and restaurants. It is all becoming a part of this radical chique society and to be honest it is making me sick! We are losing even this little of the public space that has remained to us.”

Research Proposal: Contrasting day-time and night-time use of public space

When talking about “conflicting culture” I automatically thought about the Roman district Pigneto. In this area I found a lot of potential for a conflict to happen, but surprisingly I did not whiteness any. Pigneto is a district with a very strong local history and even few decades ago was considered to be one of the most authentic ones. Its almost rural character of the village on the borders of the city was inspirational also for Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini. The good location and cheap rent soon attracted many new-coming immigrants and the demography of the place began to change. The multiculturalism and the intensive alternative art scene gave a seed for gentrification. Lot of new bars, cafes, restaurants or art galleries opened which had a massive effect to the public space.

I had a chance to observe a revitalization of a main pedestrian area of the district that, originally, hosted only few stands during a traditional morning market. After the revitalization, the same place is now filled with large benches, platforms for sitting, greenery and parking plots for bikes. This change made the terraces of adjacent little bars much more attractive, people naturally started to gather around the benches, and not only during the night time. The unemployed immigrants have now a place to socialize and together with local youngsters, elderly and parents with kids they frequently
occupy the benches during the day. The pedestrian area gained a new daily cycle; it has turned into a multi-functional place used now by different people for different purposes.

Within the time span of 24 hours there are at least three distinguished modes visible:
. 1)  morning time : market with fresh fruit and vegetables, the old traditional identity of the place, visited mostly by local elderly
. 2)  day time: relax on urban furniture, in the shade of trees, used by unemployed people, parents with kids etc.
. 3)  night time: little bars arrange their popular terraces outside while other people can enjoy their own drinks and food on the benches

The pedestrian area and its surrounding is the core of the whole neighborhood and occasionally becomes a venue of little open air concerts, celebrations, prides or protests. It seems that the public space is now satisfying different desires and is inclusive towards various users. But as they say “not everything is gold that shines”. What about the old original inhabitants? Are they happy with this transformation? And what about
families with small kids? Don’t they find the dealing of drugs in the hidden streets disturbing or rather dangerous?