New street artworks celebrating Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels were unveiled last week in Naples, Italy, the city that inspired them. The murals adorn the walls of a public library in Rione Luzzatti, the working-class neighborhood wedged behind the city’s train tracks where Ferrante’s four novels are set.
The artwork show the series’ two protagonists, Lila Cerullo and Lenù Greco, as young girls heading for the library’s doors, as well as their school teacher, Maestra Oliviero, waiting inside and other children running with their book bags.
The librarian of the girls’ childhood, Maestro Ferraro, is pictured sitting on a bench by the entrance and holding a portrait of a real-life librarian, Agostino Collina, who founded the Biblioteca Andreoli (the area’s first public lending library after World War II). The city of Naples recently announced plans to rename the institution after “Maestro” Collina.
The rest of the characters’ pictures were based on the actors portraying them in the Italian-US TV adaptation of the novels coproduced by RAI and HBO, which aired to great acclaim at the end of 2018. The images were created by Eduardo Castaldo, the show’s photographer, who blew up his stills from the set and used them to create life-size cut-outs.
With funding from the region of Campania, Castaldo plans to create other Ferrante-inspired murals around Naples.
“Instead of doing gigantic murals, I like the idea of doing a lot of small ones, to recreate the presence of characters from the books, the series and from everybody’s imagination,” said Castaldo. “When installations are too big, you have to stand back to take pictures. With these small ones, you have to enter the neighborhood. This way, you may get to know the place.”
‘Ferrante fever’ already attracts new visitors to Naples, especially international readers who encountered the series in its bestselling English translation. Several companies run tours of the books’ settings. An investment of €2 million to create a neighborhood health center was announced at the unveiling ceremony, which was attended by the Governor of the Campania region, Vincenzo Di Luca, as well as Castaldo and actors from the TV series.
After the seven episodes of My Brilliant Friend, there are plans to adapt the next of Ferrante’s novels, The Story of A New Name, for a second season expected to air in late 2019.