“Fall of Gomorrah”: Demolition of Naples’ infamous housing estate begins

Crews have begun tearing down an infamous Naples housing estate thought to be part of one of the largest drug-dealing centres in Europe. 

The four tower blocks of Le Vele di Scampia ("Sails of Scampia" in English) were the setting for "Gomorrah", the Italian television series based on the activities of the Camorra crime group.

The estate was the battleground of rival crime clans in real life, as well.

The demolition, billed as the "fall of Gomorrah", is being done with the help of bulldozers and a 45m-tall hydraulic claw crane.

Designed by Italian architect Francesco di Salvo, the estate was built on the northern outskirts of Naples between 1965 and 1980 to provide homes for residents decanted from the mediaeval city centre.

Di Salvo wanted housing that would evoke the alleyways of the old city, with added green spaces.

But his hopes were dashed, as public funds were embezzled, and some of the blocks were left unfinished.

Crime rates soared as the alleyways were taken over by heroin dealers.

Housing up to 70,000 people in their heyday, the Sails were slated for demolition in 2016, but the discovery of asbestos caused a delay.

Last year, remaining residents began moving into new apartments built nearby.

Luigi de Magistris, the mayor of Naples, said at a press conference before the demolition began: "For years this area has been equated with Gomorrah but it is not so. There has been struggle and dignity of the citizens of Scampia and a new page of collaboration between the government and the administration."

Omero Benfenati, spokesperson for the Sails Committee, commented: "The Sails represented a negative brand, but today we tell another story."

Image: Le Vele di Scampia (Federica Zappalà/CC BY-SA 3.0 IT) 

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