Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Hospitality is a key quality throughout Italy. In Naples the practice of hospitality is clearly gendered. Men tend to offer hospitality in public spaces such as cafés or bars, while women are responsible for hospitality offered in the home. This could take a number of different forms, ranging from offers of coffee or liqueurs to extensive offerings of food. A special invitation required elaborate and lengthy meals, consisting of a number of different carefully prepared courses that testified to the hostess's generosity and culinary skills. Food is a key component of social interaction, especially among kin, and between mothers and their dependants. Carefully prepared homemade food was also important as the highest form of hospitality.

Television is an important source of recreation and is often at the center of family meals and reunions. Italian cinema has also flourished and has produced many very popular films focused on questions of gender and sexuality. These same themes, with a stronger emphasis on questions of reputation, betrayal, and revenge are common threads in the plots of the Neapolitan sceneggiata. This is a traditional form of theater in which the audience is presented with a moral dilemma within a highly charged emotional situation. The audience is expected to express their opinion as to the appropriate outcome of the play: Should the betrayed lover forgive his fiancée? Should he repudiate her? Should he seek revenge?

Some recent cultural products challenge the very premise on which the sceneggiata is based, that is, the clarity of domestic roles and the sanctity of the family unit and especially of the mother-child relationship. L'amore molesto (Martone, 1995) is set in Naples and deals with the relationship between mother and daugh-ter—so often the basis of moral and material support among the Neapolitan population. In contrast with the jovial and life-affirming approach to sexuality of earlier generations of Italian cinema (pace Pier Paolo Pasolini), L'amore molesto unsettles comfortable certainties and subverts expectations of a natural order of gender, kinship, and sexuality.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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