Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Walking the streets of Naples with a comic genius ........ Totò

Now there is no escaping Totò in Naples.

He was born in one of the poorest parts of the city in 1898 and was the illegitimate son of Anna Clemente from Sicily and a Neapolitan nobleman who did not legally recognise him until 1937.

By which time Totò had become a popular entertainer who in that year made the first of 96 films, many of which we still regularly watch on Italian TV.

And he was one of those all round entertainers, performing variously as a comedian, film and stage actor as well as a poet and song writer.

But above all it was his comic genius which delighted generations of Italians and earned him the nickname of the Prince of Laughter.

Yesterday we sat and re watched Totòtruffa 62 in which a poor man supports his daughter’s stay at an expensive boarding school by a series of outrageous money schemes including the sale of the Trevi Fountain to a foolish businessman.

And such was his popularity that at his death there were three funeral services.

So I am not surprised at how a full half century after he died he is to be found everywhere in Naples.

We sat beside him at a small cafe where his life sized model advertised Caprese, which is a salad made from tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

There was an exhibition devoted to him; the shops were full of Totò souvenirs and from key rings to painted plates and masks.

And in that small street devoted to all manner of nativity figures more than a few were of the man himself.

Location; Naples

Pictures; Totò in Naples, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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