There are many fine churches in Naples. In fact the old part of the city is just a whole lot of churches with a few houses stuck in between. The churches have beautiful chapels containing poignant works of religious art. But the saddest altar of them all is dedicated, not to the Madonna, but to a Maradonna.
Diego Maradonna is an Argentinian footballer who played for Napoli in the 80’s – and helped them to win Serie A, Italy’s top championship, in 1987.
(In the World Cup of 1986 in Mexico, he scored two of the goals that eliminated England, the first by punching the ball past Peter Shilton, the England goalie, and the second – often called ‘the goal of the Century’ - after weaving past six England players. When accused of cheating by scoring a goal with his hand, he said it was "The Hand of God".)
The altar stands near the Piazza Nilo. It is painted in the colours of Napoli football club and bears such touching memorabilia as a plaque saying “Miraculous Chapel to Diego Amando Maradonna: Holy Year, 1987”; a bottle said to contain the tears of the Neapolitans when he left – and a notice saying that if you didn’t buy a drink [in the adjacent bar] you can’t take a photograph. I did both.
I name this book… Yes, it’s launched at last. It wasn’t exactly à la Harry Potter. First there was a rail strike, which prevented some people from getting there; others couldn't get in because of the traffic blockage that resulted - but phoned in orders. Finally, the main post office building - in the same street - started to drop masonry so the police closed the street. (We were wondering if a jealous J K Rowling had put a curse on us.) But apart from that Mrs Lincoln, the more determined fans got through and it was a qualified success