Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fermatelo, Al Ladro!

Tomorrow, my gun moll and I are heading to Rome for a two week (crime) tour of the Mediterranean. One of our stops along the way will be La Cita di Napoli. That's Naples to you folks who aren't trying to learn Italian. Like me. Incidentally, the title of this blog is itself an Italian phrase meaning "Stop, thief!" My, ahem, "significant accomplice" and I had wanted to visit Naples several years ago. Partly to see all those corpses preserved in volcanic ash in Pompeii, but also to sample the food. Il cibo. Then we saw the movie Gomorrah, which - punningly - is about the Camorra, basically a crime syndicate that runs things in the slums of Naples. And dabbles notoriously in waste management, sort of like Tony Soprano back in Jersey (and also like the father of a college roommate of mine, himself of Italian descent). The Camorra is actually a different group from the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, or what we call the Mafia. The Camorra is more of a Neapolitan thing than a Sicilian thing. Although some folks think the Camorra is descended from a medieval Spanish secret society called the Garduna, it first became known under its current name back in the 18th century, when it controlled the gambling racket in Naples. The name Camorra is a contraction of "capo" or boss and "morra", meaning game - the Camorra were literally the "bosses of the game". It has diversified since, getting into guns, drugs, smuggling, police corruption and much else. Unlike the Mafia, the Camorra does not have a hierarchical structure, and is more "horizontal" than "vertical" in its organization. This may be good news for proponents of a criminal democracy, in which every scumbag can get his own piece of the calzone, but bad news for anyone who values law and order, much less peace and quiet. The Camorra tends to splinter off into little factions that are constantly fighting with each other. The Camorra made it to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, but has long since merged with the Mafia. Apparently, Tony Soprano's crime family were supposed to have been originally a Camorra outfit (which explains the constant discord that energized its plot lines), although I don't recall the episode when this was established. The Cammora has also colonized Scotland (of all places). A bad dude named Antonio La Torre set up shop up in Aberdeen, thus establishing organized crime in the land of bagpipes and haggis. At any rate, Gomorrah scared us the hell away from Naples, and Italy in general. At least for a while. But now we're taking the plunge. Wish us luck with the pickpockets!

Camorra (Wikipedia)
Lesser Known Mobsters, as Brutal as the Old Ones (review of Gomorrah from the New York Times

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