When a good becomes ‘common’ – Italy

Villa Fernandes, is a wonderful example of rebirth and virtuous use of a place confiscated and taken away from crime.

A Common Good, belonging to everyone, in the heart of the city of Portici (Naples), a symbol of the fight against the mafia, of the community’s resilience, of the desire to take possession of spaces taken away from the world of illegality and violence, returning them to the citizens, but also a place for conviviality and sharing.

 “Villa Fernandes represents the concrete possibility of good triumphing over evil, and we are happy that in just a few years it has become a stable place for reflection on delicate and important issues, a place of legality and social, cultural and even recreational participation, as is the case with our recreational and musical initiatives, and a point of reference above all for young and elderly people” explains Antonio Capece, director of Villa Fernandes, “we deal with integration, sociality, work through all possible languages and we address all citizens and institutions”.

The Villa is a hospitable and inclusive place, open to all who wish to benefit from the green space and classrooms for studying, reading, and rediscovering the value of meeting and socialising. With a restaurant and bar inside, open daily, it is a prestigious venue for meetings, events, presentations, and conferences. The Service Centre of the Villa provides job training and coaching support as well, managed by the cooperative Seme di Pace ONLUS, the first contact to learn about activities and services related to youth policies. In addition, it hosts listening desks run by specialised organisations that support people by facilitating access to information and services to satisfy their needs and provide orientation on available opportunities, rights, and incentives. Villa Fernandes is a centre for development, learning and innovation, assisting organisations and professionals to implement projects that, starting from the needs and resources in the community, propose effective solutions for sustainable development.

The promotion of legality is very much felt by the Villa’s managers and visitors: in recent months, guided tours have been organised to tell, especially to local schoolchildren, the history of the villa, which from its ancient splendour to its appropriation by the Camorra has become the place it is today. A promotion that also includes theatre and literary events, such as the ‘Lib(e)ri al Parco‘ event which hosts national writers, as well as musical events: Villa Fernandes was the birthplace of the ‘Coro della Città di Portici’ (Portici City Choir), in collaboration with the ‘La Musica Ribelle’ association. In July 2023, the first edition of ‘Fuori Ora‘ was held, an opportunity for young local music talents to present themselves to the public through mini concerts in the Villa’s gardens.

 Villa Fernandes is an early 20th-century building, confiscated from the Rea Camorra clan, transferred in March 1999 to the Portici municipality’s non-disposable assets and finally granted on loan for use to the network of non-profit organisations for the management of the spaces.

Out of 30,000 properties confiscated from the mafia, 900 are managed by third sector organisations (data as of October 2022)

A meeting and social aggregation point, a listening and guidance centre for those experiencing situations of hardship , the project is supported by the Fondazione CON IL SUD and the Fondazione Peppino Vismara, promoted by the social cooperative Seme di Pace ONLUS together with the City of Portici and 22 other partners active in the area who, united by the same values, share the same vision and mission to develop projects in the Portici area, also with the collaboration of organisations and foundations from other geographical areas, sensitive to the objective of returning places deprived of legality to the community.

Villa Fernandes will host the closing ceremony of the Social Cooperatives International School on 8 October 2023.

To find out the full programme of the SCIS2023, click here.