Neapolitans are considered the cleverest, most imaginative, most romantic, and the most entertaining people in Italy. The world's finest men's fashions, Italy's most celebrated popular songs and plays, and a high proportion of popular and operatic singers are all from Naples. Past Italian literary awards portray an amazingly high proportion of Neapolitans receiving the greatest honours.
Neapolitan creativity survived centuries of foreign occupation, widespread misery, the end of its role as a great capital city, repeated natural catastrophes, and terrible epidemics. What accounts for the creativity of Naples? The sorcerer Virgil is said to have created a Golden Egg, inside a crystal sphere, to save Naples from natural catastrophe. The egg, locked in an iron cage, was buried beneath a castle—still known as the "Egg Castle"—to maintain stability and to give eternal life to Naples. Michael A. Ledeen suggests some other surprising answers in a highly original exploration of Neapolitan life and death that ranges from religion to organized crime, war, and violence.