Palermo, the Sea Museum on one side and waste and crime on the other: the history of via dell’Arsenale

A robbery and a cat hunted and then roasted in the last week. In the past often news stories, even a fight in front of a disco in recent months. And abandoned trees, rubbish scattered on the ground. Sex in the car in front of the eyes of the residents. And drugs. This is via dell’Arsenale, in Palermo, Cantieri Navali area. Indeed, the road is parallel to the busy Via dei Cantieri and serves as a gateway for trucks and lorries that need to embark.

For years it has been under the spotlight – so to speak, considering that there is no lighting – due to the deterioration it is experiencing. Trees never cared for, mud and abandonments are a constant: the latter, above all, find the perfect accomplice in the darkness allowed by non-functioning street lamps. The absence of video surveillance cameras and the darkness that envelops the street as soon as the sun goes down are the perfect situation for creating rubbish dumps in several points along the street. “It’s always dirty. The street is full of abandonments and they rarely come to clean», they say from the Museo del Mare, which is located at the end of the street, a small jewel surrounded by decay.

And since degradation calls for degradation, the area has recently become the protagonist of some unpleasant scenes. The most recent ones date back to recent days, when a boy was attacked and robbed by two men armed with knives: according to the victim, two people with covered faces approached him with an excuse, pulling a large knife out of his pocket and threatening him. The loot would have been only the cell phone, considering that the victim had no cash with him.

In the following days, the hunting season would open: a man of Ghanaian origins, who had been living for a few weeks in an abandoned white van near the former Tirrenia, after various attempts managed to capture a cat, kill it and then , after making a makeshift fire, roast it to make edible meat. «Mohamed – that’s the boy’s name, who now seems to be in the running for repatriation as an irregular immigrant – had been living here for a few weeks – says Fabrizio Giordano, owner of a workshop right in front of Tirrenia -, he didn’t hurt anyone. It was clear that he needed help and we gave him some shoes, some clothes and we gave him some food ».

Mohamed had already been taken to the police station once, last week, because he was carrying a knife: “He was simply doing what the Municipality hasn’t done for years – continues Fabrizio Giordano jokingly -, he was weeding the sidewalk”. After about a day, however, the man was there again, in what was now becoming his new home. «Where it is now full of bulky objects, the van used to be, abandoned there for about 4 years. All that stuff was in there: it was being used as a dumpster. He cleaned it up so he could live or, at least, sleep in it.’ Then the crime, which in the night between Saturday and Sunday saw him as the protagonist. “I have to be honest, I don’t believe he did such a thing – the mechanic continues – certainly, however, it is a gesture of desperation, of hunger”.

«The problem of the area – explains Igor Gelarda, a former municipal councilor who has fought hard over the years for via dell’Arsenale – is that there are no shops. In the evening, after the trucks have gone and gone and the light goes down, it becomes no man’s land. Furthermore, there is also a school there, the Karol Wojtyla comprehensive school, attended by over a hundred children and teenagers. Last year we petitioned the old administration with the residents to try to have at least some cameras installed. It is an important and central street in the city, it cannot remain abandoned like this».

The photos are by Alessandro Fucarini

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Category Palermo

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