Is Naples a 'new cultural machine?'

The University of Naples Federico II

NAPLES – “A new cultural machine,” were the words Former Prime Minister Romano Prodi used to describe University Federico II at the EASTWEST FORUM – Digital Challenges held in Naples when he answered questions from the press.

 “This structure is wonderful, but, above all, it is important,” asserts the former President of European Union in reference to the new didactic pole built in San Giovanni a Teduccio that includes Europe’s first Apple IOS Academy.

 “First of all, it helps to produce a sophisticated category of professionals like the engineers this nation much needs. There are top-notch qualified professionals here; it was an act of intelligence both because students now have access to additional formation and because it revitalizes the area,” he explains to the Italian Insider microphone about the investment made at the former Cirio factory that was considered an eyesore for the locals since it had left much of the town out of a job.

 “It has been said that this marvellous intellectual production is our greatest exportation asset. Yet, we can hardly keep on exporting engineers we preciously need here,” he continues with a chuckle, adding: “We have to become really attractive again and University Federico II is helping to pave the way by becoming a focal point for education; it is a new cultural machine.”

 When asked about the attempted revitalization of the other important area of Bagnoli located on the north side of the city, Prodi does not mince words: “Bagnoli is a thorn in my side. I spent years hoping the area would shine again.” With a smile, he specifies: “I hoped I was not going to be asked that question because it would have meant Bagnoli had since resurged. When Italsider closed in the early 90’s, I thought that was the most beautiful resource the city could possibly take advantage of.”

 While the father of the Ulivo Party and founding member of the Democratic Party wags his finger, making it clear first thing in the morning that he would not in any way answer questions about the Italian political disarray, he cannot help but address an issue that has openly been tearing at southern Italy’s heart.  Not denying the truth in a comment where the South has presumably slipped away from the PD agenda in the last couple of years, he promptly says. “I do not want to get into the justice of political divisions, but I will say that this is THE biggest Italian problem today.”

 “We’ve just mentioned Bagnoli as being valuable. We have been blessed with such beauty and such potential in this country and it’s suffocated, just suffocated,” he continues, indicating the inability of making the best of resources, shaking his head in disappointment.

 Called to the stage by Forum moderator and political journalist Myrta Merlino, Prodi introduced the opening debate “Access to the Internet as a human right”. In a coherent speech, he said he was sorry that Italy is out of digital loop, with very slow national advancement in the fast-paced digital world.

 “The internet has given way to a web of imbeciles,” quotes Merlino, provoking the politician as she asks for a comment to Italian writer Umberto Eco’s words. While Prodi emphasizes that Internet technology is a massive coffee bar that incorporates all types of customers, he equally warns against the tendency of trying to simplify things too much, risking distortion.

 “I’m no longer able to get into complicated analysis anymore. Today, a 240-page programme becomes a reason for criticism, but would it really be better to convey it in a message that’s one hundred and forty letters long?” Who knows if his statement refers to someone in particular? Someone who seems to often prefer social platforms (some even with letter limits) in order to communicate nowadays?


Romano Prodi answering questions from the press