Amanda Palmer and the 48 team visit the unofficial capital of southern Italy - Naples.
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2011 11:16 GMT

Once a glittering regional capital, modern Naples' reputation has been tarnished by organised crime and soaring unemployment - but in this week's programme, Amanda Palmer and the 48 team meet local journalists Andrea and Ilaria, who show them how this brash city is determined to shrug off the forces holding it back.

The most destructive of these forces is the local mafia, The Camorra - older and arguably more powerful than Sicily's Cosa Nostra - which operates like a vast corporation controlling Neapolitan business and local politics. But some are willing to challenge their power, as 48 discovers when Andrea takes the team to meet the The "Sott' 'o pont" (Under the Bridge) theatre company - an organisation trying to educate teenagers about the dangers of Camorrista life through drama.

For many the most vivid image of modern Naples are its 'rubbish crises', which frequently see the city festering in uncollected refuse. We head to the suburb of Villaricca, home to Europe's largest rubbish dump, to meet local percussion band Bidonvillarik. Their musical instruments are built from rubbish to draw attention to this recurring problem.

Naples is proud to have maintained its own language, and nowhere is it more alive than in its beloved local folk music, Canzone Napoletana. We meet 12-year-old Fortuna, one of the genre's hugely popular child singers, as she performs to an enraptured crowd at a birthday party in one of the narrow streets of the Forcella district.

The next morning our guide Ilaria introduces Amanda to 'Pizza Master' Enrico, who runs a training course for local teenagers. His students are keen to learn a respected craft which can earn them a healthy, legitimate wage in a city where high unemployment makes joining the Camorra an all too attractive option. Amanda learns the secrets of the perfect margherita - the precise dimensions and ingredients of which are enshrined in EU law - and attempts to solve the mystery of why pizza making is such a macho career.

Next we take the dramatic coast road around the Bay of Naples towards Amalfi, to visit one of the terraced lemon farms which have characterised the craggy coastal landscape of the Naples region for centuries. Lifelong lemon farmer Luigi reveals the passion for his fruit which keeps him fondly tending his terraces at the age of 74, and introduces us to his protégé, 'Young Luigi'.

Finally Ilaria and Andrea take us to the village of Montevergine for the annual festival of Tammurriata, a traditional Neapolitan style of music and dance with a huge following among young people. An earthy blend of pagan sensuality and Christian spirituality, the festival celebrates fertility, rebirth, and a successful harvest.

48 Naples can be seen from Friday, January 14, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.

Music on 48 Naples:

48 would like to thank the artists who have generously allowed us to use their music on 48 Naples. Many local people we spoke to expressed a strong preference for us to use genuine Neapolitan music on the programme, so we are pleased to have had this opportunity to create an authentic soundtrack.

The band Tarantapower* emerged in the wake of a revived interest in tarantella, a lively folk dance with its roots as far back as the 15th century. The style is believed to have begun life as a bizarre form of early music therapy - an energetic dance lasting several days which was thought to cure a condition called 'tarantism', melancholy and madness caused by a spider bite. Tarantella spread around the Mediterranean and evolved into new forms - for example, in Andalusia it has become a slow, poetic lament. Tarantapower is not just a band, it is also a movement - the vibrant new incarnation of the genre which has been enthusiastically embraced by young people well beyond Italy's borders.

Eugenio Bennato* is the founding member of Tarantapower, and also a prolific solo musician and composer. He has been an influential force in Neapolitan music scene since the 1970s, and as well as producing numerous film scores, he and his bands regularly perform throughout Europe.

Marcello Vitale* is an established virtuoso performer and recording artist on the chitarra battente (a type of lute, literally 'beating guitar') and baroque guitar. He has collaborated with the ensemble L'Arpeggiata, and Peter Gabriel. He performs at music festivals throughout the world, and is also part of the Tarantapower 'family'.

* Al Jazeera English is not responsible and accepts no liability for the content of third party websites.

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