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Back To School, For Those Who Can Afford It

Our psychologist discusses schooling struggles and deep inequalities with her Neapolitan patients.

Photograph of a puddle's reflection, where children stand by the side of a gravel street

A group of children reflected on a puddle of water

Carlos Torres/Unsplash
Mariateresa Fichele

In most Italian municipalities, school cafeterias and full-day school schedules begin at the same time as the teaching calendar. Yet in Naples, for years I've been hearing the following:

"To start the school lunch service, we have to wait for a company to win the contract bidding!"

This "normally" happens at the end of October, if not at the end of November. Yet, Neapolitan parents pay for school lunch just like all other Italian citizens. However, in Naples, holidays are considered sacred even for contract bidding and companies, so they cannot be announced or concluded, as reason would dictate, before the start of the school year.

So, what if the children get out of school at 1 P.M. for a couple of months? If parents can't pick them up, they have to rely on family members or, alternatively, they send their children to private schools.

Those who can afford it are welcome, but those who can't afford it can't work, because, as one of my patients once said:

"Dottoré, I used to work for 600 euros a month under the table in a clothing store. Then, with the arrival of my second child, I had to leave because how could I manage with one child in daycare and one in elementary school? It would have cost me 700 euros a month for a babysitter, which is more than I was earning."

Christ must have stopped south of here. Equality, emancipation, and the rights of motherhood and childhood should be much, much higher ...


Learn more about Worldcrunch's exclusive Dottoré! series here.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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