For 70 years she perched up there slyly, not really veiled, just a short distance above the glances of those who for generations passed below. She was about ten meters up, set at the corner of the building on the corner of via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli and Piazza Cavour. A metal rod fixed into the masonry supported her and other air-raid sirens that served during WWII to warn the population of approaching incursions by enemy aircraft. A few years ago, quite by chance, we noted their presence and felt impelled to put in these pages a short item with the title, “Parthenope and the others – the Sirens of Naples no longer sing”.
We wrote the item because it seemed proper to recall to the current inhabitants of this city—direct descendants of the generation that heard that song and were able to seek timely refuge from the deadly rain of fiery metal—to recall to them how many lives were saved by the siren's presence. We merely wanted to pay homage to an object that, with no official recognition, had become a monument to memory.
I was stunned the other day when I looked up, almost as if to give her a friendly nod of greeting, and noticed that she was gone. The ancient siren is no longer at her post. The metal rod had been sawed off and another bit of our common history is taken from us.
Those are the facts. The question that comes to mind is—Who could have done such a thing? Remember that the siren was fixed in place ten meters up at one of the busiest corners in Naples. Given the position, you'd had needed either a long ladder or, coming down from above, a rope. Who could it have been? We asked around, but it seems that no one had noticed. This leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe it would have been better not to even mention her in the first place and to have let her remain in oblivion. There she was at least safe from human greed.
Photos of other air-raid sirens
Some before-and-after photos of the episode
p.s. (a few days later). Sorry, I've just found out it was the Fire Department, intent on setting up a museum. They sawed off the siren without asking her if she would rather hold watch over the populace or wind up in a display case. I'm pretty sure what she would say.
Click on image to enlarge
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