should have guessed that the Roman Catholic patron
saint of cooks would also be one of the saints of
Naples! He is St. Francis Caracciolo
(1563-1608). He was born in the Abruzzi region of
Italy, but studied theology in Naples starting in
1585 and became a priest there. There is an
exhibit about his life currently running at the
ancient Baslica of
Santa Maria Maggiore, where in 1593 he
opened the first house of the Congregation of the
Minor Clerks Regular, which he helped to found.
Caracciolo was beatified in 1769 and canonized in
1807. His feast day is June 4. His remains are in
the church of Monteverginella in the historic
center of Naples. Interestingly, he is not
generally known today in Naples.
year and a half of construction, the bottom
station of the Montesanto
cable-car is finished. As well, the station
is the downtown Naples terminus of the narrow-gauge Cumana railway.
For months, it looked like a pit. Now they have put in
place a neat little retro-style 1890-ish station
(photo, right). I am well pleased.
is a map of all four cable-cars in Naples here.)
statues in Naples and elsewhere look better from
a distance than they do up close. Indeed, as you
approach the row of famous eight
statues on the western facade of the Royal
palace, you start to see that bits and pieces have
been chipped or broken. Entire fingers are missing,
swords are broken off, etc. Some of that can be
chalked up to the ravages of time and some of it is no
doubt due to vandalism. A commission has been set up
to use public subscription to pay for the restoration
of the statues, currently underway.
last few years, almost 600 horses have been
rescued from the clutches of what is called the "zoomafia."
The animals are used in illegal trotting races on
steets in one of the roughest parts of town, Poggioreale, home of the
brand-new Civic Center
as well as the largest prison in southern Italy. A
short while ago, passengers were trapped in their bus
for an hour while races were held on their
street—jockeys, racing gigs, the whole deal, all
patrolled by zoo-mobsters on motorcycles who made sure
no one interfered. As they say, investigations are
on-going. Arrests will no doubt be made, a few more
horses salvaged, and drugs used to juice up the poor
creatures will be confiscated.
—I went to
a funeral the other day and learned that the
deceased had ordered the cremation of his remains. That no
longer raises eyebrows in Naples, although it used to.
Indeed, Christians have generally buried their dead
over the centuries, viewing cremation as pagan. There
is nothing really doctrinal about this at all.
Christian writers as long ago as the third century
said that the mode of burial obviously could not
interfere with the resurrection of the body by an
omnipotent God. Nevertheless, in Italy, and especially
in the south, families still retain a psychological
attachment to their departed loved if they can go
"visit" them in a cemetery. In any event, the deceased
in the first sentence had to be transported to Salerno
because there is no facility for cremation in Naples.
That is about to change as the go-ahead has been given
for just such a facility to open in Naples in 2009.