Castel Volturno is a fortified castle standing on the bank of the Volturno river, in the province of Caserta. During the Eighties, this small town was the vacation destination for many families, and mine was among those. Then life jackets and jukeboxes disappeared to leave room to other families from Africa who came in Italy looking for a living, not for holidaying. Once the holiday suitcases had been closed for good, the suitcases of those who arrived after a long journey were unpacked.
Compared to my childhood memories, Castel Volturno has become something different: the grass in country houses grew until they blacked out the horizon; houses are uninhabited both during winter and spring, as even with sunlight the season was off. The reason dates back to a night in 2008, when the name of Castel Volturno was placed side by side with the word “massacre” as members from the Casalesi clan killed seven African migrants outside a Ghanaian tailor shop.
After this tragic event, “hope” is a word that only lights on a neon sign over an Evangelical Church. In garages and abandoned shopping malls, as you turn a door handle it seems getting to Nigeria, Ghana or South Africa.
Red carpets, balloons, gospel music and preachers with their hands turned towards the God beyond the roof. I returned to Castel Volturno to meet the spiritual leaders, the devotees and my memories as well. And to understand how to find hope where it’s non-existent.
Text by Valerio Millefoglie