Once upon a time there was an Englishman, a Campano and… ‘O Nnapulitano.

Browsing the internet in search of Neapolitans abroad, I came across two of friends who have created a youtube channel that deals with Neapolitan language and languages comparisons. These guys have already found their way toward the future. Their channel has reached 2.02K subscribers.Among the comments to the video about ‘Neapolitan language and it’s background’ an user wrote this:

“How is it that I’ve been searching on YouTube for Neapolitan language videos for years and never come across this before ??? Someone ought to work on those stupid algorithms. Anyway, I’m so psyched to have found this. The first instant I heard Neapolitan spoken, I was in love. So much prettier than strident Italian. Listening to it feels like being rocked by waves. “

It’s true, there is little of Neapolitan on the net and from experience I can assure you that Google doesn’t even know all the authors of Neapolitan songs. And here is that two guys, one from Campania and one from England, got to work and opened the Aaron & Stefano channel on youtube.

Aaron – The idea started when one day we were reflecting on Campania and debating various topics such as cuisine and mentalities. We thought that it would be a shame if Neapolitan traditions and culture, and above all the language, could possibly be lost, since the Neapolitan language is commonly more spoken than written today. We also compared peoples’ views of the Neapolitan language of being just a language for ‘common’ people, and not being as important as Italian, to our facts of how King Alfonso V ordered official documents to be written in Neapolitan, rather than Latin during the time, and so we had realised that Neapolitan was an important culture worth exploring and sharing. It then turned from a long debate from Aaron having the idea teaching, informing and showing the world how beautiful the South of Italy is, instead of just teaching people Italian, which many people already did. Then, he had the idea to use YouTube as a platform to teach people around the world – whether that would be in the United States, the United Kingdom or anywhere in the world. Alongside Stefano, a real native Neapolitan speaker, we decided to teach people how to speak Napoletano, and how to enjoy the ancestry, culture and history of many Neapolitans. We had a real idea of what we wanted to show, it was everything and anything Napoletano, whether that be Movies, Food, Places to visit, History, Culture or Language.-

A series of videos, in easy English, entitled “Around The World Series” provides information about the world in which we live in. “Language Comparison Series” instead is a compared look at everday phrases in multiple language with tips to learn faster. Their YouTube channel offers a number of other videos that you can see here. Stefano, from Campania, is the youngest. He shares the fruit of his cultural background handed down to him by his family. He pays particular attention to the dialectal nuances of different areas of Campania and shares his love for Napoli with Aaron. On the other hand, Aaron is an Englishman from Birmimgham in love with our city and our culture and from a distance he works with Stefano on the growth of their project. The boys are young the network offers many possibilities to make their way and to build a future especially in this historical moment. However, the risk remains of falling into the machinery of intellectual automatism. To get to know them better and to know what they think about this I have interviewed them. About the virtual world they say it can be the good, the bad and the ugly of life. It can be a way of learning, experience, entertainment, socialising, but with that being said it can also be a dangerous place if you don’t learn to educate yourself first. They consider that we all need to be aware that there is a lot of negativity online. Bad can come from people comments, or misleading, or wrong information. They believe that it is important to be careful when trying to educate yourself or even socialising. However they also see it as a great place to learn, and to meet people who share the same passions and interests as you. They say they have always believed that nothing truly beats real life interactions, emotions and experiences.Aaron and Stefano are young. Aaron is 27 years old and Stefano is 24.

Aaron is from Birmingham, the second city of England, in United Kingdom, and Stefano is from the city of Salerno, in the province of Campania, in Italy. Aaron and Stefano met each other on a language sharing app named ”Tandem” which is designed for users that want to learn and exchange languages and cultures. Stefano was trying to learn and improve his English, and Aaron was practicing his
Italian and exploring Neapolitan and Napoli. In those days Aaron spoke really good Italian, and loved living in the north of Italy
for a year, in particular Florence. However, he never really had the chance to explore the possibilities and cultures of Southern Italy. Aaron once did a cultural exchange project for a week in his hometown of Birmingham, where he had met two Neapolitan boys during the project, and he never realised what the boys meant when they were trying to tell him that they were Neapolitan not Italian. He didn’t realise the power, he couldn’t comprehend that sense of pride. Then one day by chance, he met Stefano who also came from Campania. They exchanged passions and interests and Aaron instantly understood the world that he was missing out on, the culture, the food, the history – he felt enlightened. They became great friends, and over time they decided to get an apartment together. They had the idea to teach others about the
beautiful new world that he had just discovered.

A.D.A. – What does Napoli represent to you guys?-

Stefano – For me, Napoli represents the warmth of a population, that makes the city unique. Napoli gave me its many ancient and beautiful traditions, despite many influences of different civilizations and pestilences, that had affected the city during itshistory. These traditions are still celebrated in the streets of Napoli and surrounding areas. Also, when I think of Napoli, I think of strong morals and values that are still very prominent today. The spirit of community always makes me feel that I will always have a place to call home.-

Aaron – In my opinion, Napoli represents a strong sense of community and pride. I have never heard the way that Neapolitans talk about their own city, compared to other populations in the world, they are very proud. When I think about Napoli, I think of strength. This comes from the examples that history shows us by the challenges that Napoli has faced over time, in terms of invasions, wars, poverty and many other trials and tribulations. It has always managed to succeed and grow. I also think of a strong mindset in terms of morals, beliefs and traditions that has been deeply implanted into every Neapolitan that you meet. They really know what they stand for, and I believe that is really powerful. –

A.D.A. – Is there a song from the Neapolitan Classical repertoire that is representative of your childhood?-

Aaron & Stefano – The Neapolitan Classical repertoire is very broad. We really appreciate many Neapolitan classics and enjoy many Neapolitan songs and music such as, “‘A città de Pulecenella” and “‘O surdato ‘nnammurato.” Stefano used to listen to, and sing those kinds of songs in the squares, at festivals, and during celebrations throughout his entire childhood. My personal favorite Neapolitan song of all time is, “Napule” (by Gigi D’Alessio, Lucio Dalla, Sal Da Vinci, and Gigi Finizio.) This is because the song gives me so much nostalgia, and reminds me of a warm, summer night in Campania. We will always have a place in our hearts for songs like, “Tu vuo fa l’americano” (by Renato Carosone), due to it’s uplifting and atmospheric melody. –

A.D.A. – Stefano, why did you move from Napoli? –

Stefano – I moved from Napoli because I was looking for new opportunities, experiences. I wanted to break the monotony of living in Campania. When you visit and start living in a new country, you can surely feel the mpact of a new culture. Myself and many other Italians, especially from the South, notice the open-mindedness, the diverse-mentalities and the multiculturalism that may not be present in Italy, and we can really see how it’s completely a whole new world, compared to our home of Campania or Southern Italy. I knew that moving from Napoli was a great opportunity for me to improve myself, my goals, and to gain valuable experience that wasn’t available at home. Neapolitans are very traditional and religious, and I thought it would be very exciting to throw myself into a new reality full of different beliefs and customs. I immediately understood the difference of culture when I was talking with people abroad. Many topics are still considered taboo in Napoli, and Italy in general. So getting a new perspective, having a debate, and learning from the people that I have met overseas, really proves the point of why I left Napoli. It’s something that I really appreciated. –

A.D.A. – Where did you learn about Neapolitan culture?-

Stefano – The Neapolitan culture and language is not taught in schools in Italy, so our families pass on their traditions, mentalities, values and manners through their stories, language, songs, traditions, etc… So Napulitano is a language that we speak at home, with friends, family, neighbours and the community of Campania. –

Aaron – As mentioned earlier, the cultural project that I did in Birmingham was the very first impression that I had of the Neapolitan way of life. However, it was only when I met Stefano a few years ago that I was really immersed into the way of life of Campania, and I was instantly in love. I learned all sorts of different things that I wouldn’t have in my own country England. The way that they sang, the way that they had so much passion when they cooked a meal, the pride that they had when it came to their way of thinking that differed from the everyday Italian mentality, it was deeply fascinating. It really captured my attention and I felt that I had been missing out on this experience for such a long time, and wanted to learn more and to share it with others. We started to deliberate and begin to initialise our project in early December 2018. However, we wanted to launch our project for New Years Day in January of 2019, for a fresh and exciting new start. We have been creating educational and entertaining content on YouTube ever since. –

A.D.A. – Where did you study Neapolitan? –

Stefano – Aaron always knew from the day that he first heard the language, how beautiful Napulitano truly was. He only really started to learn Napoletano from our YouTube videos, due to the way that I passionately teach the viewers. He felt that he only started to learn more in depth when we started our ‘Neapolitan Language Series.’ Before, Aaron couldn’t remember the words or phrases, or couldn’t pronounce the words that he had remembered hearing. It’s only till he started to make and edit our YouTube videos, that he started to remember more. Soon enough, Aaron started to speak Neapolitan words and phrases to me, my friends and family, and that made him very proud and proved that our YouTube videos were successful and effective. He also said to me that he felt more cultured instead of just speaking general Italian. He now felt that he specifically spoke, and knew the way of the Neapolitan people. –

A.D.A. – What are the sources of the information you spread? –

Aaron & Stefano – Apart from having a traditional Neapolitan from the Campania region of Italy, we also strongly rely on the online community from Campania, and sometimes from Neapolitans abroad. Aaron is such a perfectionist, he really likes to do his research instead of taking my final word. We check our facts together, from literature, multiple online websites for facts, and also from friends, family and again, the Neapolitan community of Campania, online and in person. –

A.D.A. – Do you have any worries about the future? –

Aaron & Stefano – We are always looking forward to what life throws our way, however we like to really plan ahead and find likely problems that may occur during the future. As long as Neapolitans, Italians, and foreigners love and wish to learn about the culture and history of Campania, ‘La Lingua Napoletana’, and continue to remember its traditions, (which we know has been a real Neapolitan quality,) then we have no worries at all. We always try to put a positive spin on anything negative or problems that we face, and we look forward to growing as a team and as a successful YouTube channel. –

A.D.A. – What do you think about Artificial Intelligence? –

Aaron & Stefano – We don’t mind A.I (Artificial Intelligence) as it’s very helpful, it gets to the point and it’s there to broaden our horizons. We have advanced a lot in history thanks to the help of machines, in terms of assistance and in other ways like having social media, search engines, voice assistant apps such as Siri and Alexa, they can provide us with a great education, sources, footage and new understandings of the world that we live in. That being said, we do believe that being traditional is irreplaceable, in the sense that nothing beats real life interactions, learning from your family, friends and peers, these things are really important and it’s something that A.I in our current time cannot yet replace. Artificial Intelligence can improve our lives and lifestyles. Thanks to technology, we can, for example, share our opinions and thoughts with the rest of the world. Also our jobs can be simplified, thanks to the aid of machines and robots. –

A.D.A. – Do you think machines can help our evolution? –

Aaron & Stefano – Machines have helped and still continue to help our evolution today. Nowadays, we can communicate, find routes, share ideas, listen to music, watch tutorials, shop online, and have much easier solutions that saves us time, energy, and money. Machines have changed the way that our world works in ways that we could have never imagined in previous decades. Think of vehicles, microwaves, computers, mobile phones, even exploring the deepest of oceans, or discovering new information from the other planets in our solar system. Life is going to evolve with technology and science whether we like it or not, it’s inevitable. –

A.D.A. – How are you guys living this time of pandemic? –

Aaron – In this current period Stefano is spending his time with his family back in Napoli, and also going to work and recharging his batteries. He is also taking this time to take in some inspiration for new ideas for our future videos and projects. I, myself am currently working really hard on trying to bring together people online who are really passionate about learning the Neapolitan language and culture, by means of language exchange apps, Napoletano Facebook pages and groups, Instagram posts and the YouTube community. We spend our time in distance together on daily phone and video calls, working very hard and long hours to come up with the next best video ideas to strive towards reaching our goal of creating a really reliable, educational, interesting and entertaining place for people to come together and share their stories, questions, opinions and thoughts about their love and passion for everything Napoletano. –

A.D.A. – What are your projects for the future? –

Aaron & Stefano – We have great hopes for the future for our YouTube channel and other social media. We plan to grow
our community in new and exciting ways. When this pandemic is over, we are arranging to take a couple of months going around Europe, to capture exciting new videos that we can use for our YouTube channel and lessons. In the future, we also have upcoming plans to visit Japan, and we are planning to take a couple of weeks touring and exploring the culture of Japan for language and culture comparison videos. We do hope to see if we can schedule some thoughtprovoking interviews from people abroad, to do with the Neapolitan language and culture, and any other culture related content. We have so many great and exciting ideas and we can’t wait to start the next chapters in our YouTube careers. –