Flirting with Disaster

Naples is chaotic, beautiful, ungovernable--and plans carefully for the worst

EMILIANO MANCUSO / GRAZIA NERI FOR TIME

A fireman checks a building in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.

Day-to-day life in Naples, Italy, a city that defines world-class municipal malfunction, can seem like "one long emergency," to borrow a phrase from Bruce Springsteen. Narrow streets. Buildings in disrepair. Pickpockets on the prowl. And we haven't even gotten to the Mob hits and trash heaps. Naples has attracted the global spotlight in recent years for a recurring emergenza of uncollected garbage piled along city blocks, the result of a toxic mix of dismal political leadership and organized crime's muscling in on the trash-collecting business. It must also be said that there is much beauty to behold in this bustling Mediterranean...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!