Naples:life,death & Miraclecontact: Jeff Matthews


main index        © Jeff Matthews                    entry Mar. 2003


Villa Donn'Anna

viia Donn'AnnaThere is much confusing popular lore about this dreary building, located on Via Posillipo as you start up that road from the Mergellina boat harbor. It is called "Villa Donn'Anna" and if you ask residents of the area, everyone is quick to tell you some variation of the theme that this is where Queen Giovanna had sex orgies and murdered her lovers. No one seems to be certain whether the Queen in question is Giovanna I (1326-1382), daughter of Charles, Duke of Calabria, or Giovanna II (1373-1435), sister of King Ladislao. The first one may have had her husband murdered and was accused of other foul deeds, as well. On the hand, she knew Petrarch and Boccaccio. The second one had more lovers. The first one looks like a good candidate to be the evil queen, at least in the opinion of Italy's greatest historian/philosopher of the 20th century, Benedetto Croce. Some hold out for number two. Me, I don't care. (See "Keeping up with the Joans".)

To make matters even more confusing, one Dragonetto Bonifacio is said to have built the villa in the early 1400s, but there were apparently two persons by that name at the same time in Naples! 

The building is on the site of the so-called "Rocks of the Siren" and, indeed, was originally called "La Villa Sirena". It changed hands a number of times and finally was inherited in 1630 by the woman whose name it now bears, Anna Stigilano, who then married the Spanish viceroy of Naples. She had the building redone by the great architect, Cosimo Fanzago, in the 1640s and, since that time, the building has been called Villa Donn'Anna.

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