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Nel pieno del centro storico di Napoli, a pochi passi da Via Toledo, troviamo il quartiere Rione Pignasecca . Da piazza Carità il rione scende ai Ventaglieri e comprende anche Montesanto. Percorrendo via Toledo non ci si accorge della frenetica attività che si svolge ogni mattina nelle vie del quartiere. È solo entrando in quella strada che ci si ritrova improvvisamente immersi in uno dei mercati tradizionali più antichi e ricchi di Napoli: il Mercato della Pignasecca .
La Pignasecca Market is not just the neighbourhood market of the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters). The Pignasecca district, with its streets crowded with the stalls of the retailers that make up its traditional market, is the beating heart of the historic centre of Naples. The unsuspecting tourists who walk down the streets of this district, perhaps just passing by and heading to downtown Naples, are inevitably overwhelmed by the energetic enthusiasm of the vendors. Crossing the market you will find literally everything: vegetables, fresh fish and any other type of food, as well as shops that sell clothing, accessories and music CDs, bars and the best street food in Naples such as the fantastic "tripperie" (where the tripe is the main dish) or the "friggitorie" where you can try the delicious "cuoppi fritti", paper cones full of all kinds of fried food. Excellent food at really affordable prices and ready to be consumed in a lively and cheerful atmosphere.
The Pignasecca district is centrally located and well connected thanks to the funicular, to the Montesanto metro line 2, and to the metro line 1 on Via Toledo. Since it is an open-air market, it can be visited every day until the evening.
There also many tourist attractions nearby, such as the famous Pellegrini Hospital born in 1578. In Piazzetta Tarsia, on the other hand, there is the historic building Palazzo Spinelli di Tarsia, commissioned to the famous architect Domenico Antonio Vaccaro by Ferdinando Vincenzo Spinelli, Prince of Tarsia. Finally, in Montesanto you can visit the 17th-century Church of Santa Maria di Montesanto and the Church of San Nicola alla Carità.
The journalist and novelist Matilde Serao describes the market in her book "The Belly of Naples", published in 1884.
In his 1977 album "Terra mia", Pino Daniele included the song "Fortunato", inspired by the historical figure of Fortunato Bisaccia, vendor of taralli in La Pignasecca Market. Furthermore, the music video of the song "Chi beve, chi beve" by Edoardo Bennato from 1987, was shot precisely in La Pignasecca Market and the singer-songwriter himself plays both a fishmonger and a smuggler of cigarettes. Finally, "A rumba d’e scugnizzi" by Raffaele Viviani fully describes the liveliness of La Pignasecca Market.
Among the buildings of the Pignasecca district, precisely in via Portamedina, looking up you can see a large sky blue mural that will certainly strike your attention. Made by the street artist Davide Vecchiato, the mural represents the face of little Mattia Fagnoni, who died at the age of 7 after having fought against Sandhoff disease. The mural is part of a series of events and projects aimed at raising public awareness on the theme of children who struggle against a rare disease every day. The entire population of the Pignasecca district mobilized for these projects, supporting little Mattia's parents. The latter have founded a non-profit organization on behalf of their child, with whom they raise funds for the purchase of specific equipment for the Neapolitan hospitals.
In ancient times, even before becoming the important local market that it is today, the area belonged to the Pignatelli di Monteleone family. The area was then known by the name of "Biancomangiare", the name of a particular meringue that was produced here. In the district there were also religious and aristocratic buildings, while in the nearby Piazza Montesanto stood a hippodrome with toreros and picadores that was built during the Spanish viceroyalty. The district took its current name in the 1500s.
The market was originally located in the nearby Piazza Dante, but it was soon abolished. So retailers moved their stalls to the area near Montesanto. Over the centuries, La Pignasecca market has increasingly expanded, invading sidewalks and streets and becoming the great market in the middle of the Quartieri Spagnoli that we know today.
Tradition has it that the current name of the Pignasecca district derives from a nice legend. It is said that the area, at the time of the Pignatelli family, was covered by vegetable gardens and a pine forest. The latter was populated by many magpies. It was precisely one of these birds (the thieves par excellence) who, while trying to steal the episcopal ring, discovered the bishop in bed with his housekeeper. The magpies were therefore all excommunicated and after three days the entire pine forest dried out and left only an expanse of arid and dry land: the Pignasecca (literally "dry pine cone").
Another version of the legend, however, says that in the 1500s the vegetable gardens that occupied the area were all destroyed to allow the construction of the sumptuous Via Toledo. Only one pine survived, called "pigna" (pine cone) by the Neapolitans. This pine was populated by many magpies who constantly robbed the inhabitants of the area, hiding their loot among the branches of the tree. So the Neapolitans chased away the birds that then abandoned the pine. The tree dried out, and the area took the name of Pignasecca.
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