The story of Coppola Village starts in the late 1960s when two brothers of humble origins, Vincenzo and Cristoforo Coppola, acquired a small piece of land by the beach in the town of Castel Volturno, Campania. They decided, without concern for planning permission, to build a huge village by the sea – a village that in their mind would represent beauty and a balance between man and nature. The coastal dunes were transformed into a town that included a hotel, houses, swimming pools, restaurants, a port, a church, a post office, a cinema and a police station. Part of the village was also formed by eight tall towers with no windows, facing the sea – refered to as eco-monsters. Thirty thousand square meters of cement replaced one of the most beautiful marine pinewood forests on the coast and represented the biggest case of unauthorised building ever seen in Italy.


The dream of the two Coppola brothers was to create a sort of “state city”. To try and bind strong relations with the state, the towers were given to NATO employees. After the 1980 earthquake that struck Naples and its surroundings, the village houses were offered to earthquake victims.


During the course of the following years the relationship between the Coppola brothers and the state started to weaken. Several episodes that linked them with Camorra clans cast dark shadows over the village. Following a first decree ordered by mayor Mario Luise of Castel Volturno in 1995, a civil proceeding recognised evidence of crime and a large part of the village was confiscated. In May of 2000 the Coppola brothers faced huge damage claims from the WWF, environmental associations and the state. They were held responsible for the disappearance of 150 species of animals and vegetables, the building of 5000 illegal constructions and the withdrawal of 200 meters of coast.


During a court hearing in the end of the 1990s, the eight eco-monsters were handed over to the state for the regeneration of the area. In 2001 the first of the eight towers came down and were followed by the remaining seven in the year 2003. People started to abandon their houses and the village structures were left to rot. The village was the largest illegal urban conglomeration ever seen in Italy, since most of its buildings were built on public soil, but the centrality of its case goes far beyond the administrative and judicial events. The Coppola brothers are responsible for a complete transformation of the entire land asset of the territory, where landowners have lost direct bonds with the land and have become a sole transitory consumer of its resources.


Today the village faces a doubtful future with a new development plan, once again in the hands of the Coppola family, that forsees the building of a large tourist port between the area where the eight towers were once standing and a part of the village called Saraceno Park.


Francesca Leonardi.