An opportunity for redemption

Enzo Coccia, Attilio Bachetti e Gino Sorbillo. What are three men, three of the best Neapolitan pizzaioli, to be more precise, doing in the women’s prison of Pozzuoli (Naples)? They bring the “sun” behind the jail’s grey bars and they make their vast experience, the secrets and techniques of one of the oldest Neapolitan activities available to ten women .

The pizza as an opportunity for social redemption and work integration is at the core of the project promoted by the director, Stella Scialpi, and coordinated by the Educational Area of the penal institution. After coffee and cooking classes, then the turn of the pizza since last May 7th . The Italian food global icon has offered a second chance to those who made a mistake, are paying their dues to justice but want to give a new mark to their lives. Monica, Loredana, Angela, Vania, Maria, Rosa, Doris, Antonietta, Flora e Rosa E. are the ten trainees’ names who, for a total of 64 hours divided into theory and practice, worn the hat, the apron and the shirt for pizzaiolo and put a lot of effort into learning how to make the classical Neapolitan pizza. Guided by their teachers, all protagonists of the short-movie “The sun on a plate”, produced by Roberto Gambacorta and created by Alfonso Postiglione, plunged their hands into water, flour, salt and yeast to acquire the skills of a profession that could help them when out of the prison. In a condition that impedes contacts with many aspects of life, even the most ordinary, and forces prisoners to forgo many things, this Neapolitan “sun” instills a new light in their eyes with the warmth of the hope for a new future.

“We do not realize that being a prisoner means also being deprived of the mere opportunity to eat a pizza,” says Enzo Coccia, which among other things has been working as pizza maker trainer for several years, while telling he was hugged and thanked by a prisoner that hasn’t neither saw nor ate a pizza for five years.

And if there are people who still think that the pizzaiolo is a job too hard and not suitable for the “fair sex”, they are definitely in the wrong. These ladies proved, with their enthusiasm and a strong desire to turn the page to a new chapter of their lives, their ability to work as one who makes pizzas, day after day, as a profession.

Actually, a step ahead, that is the determination not to be a hostage of the past anymore, pushed them to work hard without stopping, despite the three demanding masters’ reproaches. Every new element added to their reformatory path was conceived as an important achievement by the novices, a step towards freedom: from the dough-preparation procedures to the soft pizza ball shaping, from the pizza disc stretching to the way to add toppings and bake a pizza using a professional wood-fired oven made, thanks to the contribution of Adriana Tocco, representative for the prisoners at the Regional Council of Campania, by the well-known artisan Stefano Ferrara. Covered by a mosaic in shades of the sky, the sky that the inmates dream to admire soon, the wood-fired oven was lighted up during the press conference arranged at the end of the course on June 15th just like the faces of new pizzaiole who, showing what they have learned, passed the final exam with flying colors. Who knows, it may shine again.