relatively new museum has been open in Naples
since 2006. It is the Museum for Contemporary
Religious Art, on the ex-monastic premises adjacent to
the church of S.Maria la
Nova, just into the old city from the east side
of the main post office. It is part of an umbrella
Franciscan cultural organization, "Beyond the
Cloister," the aim of which (as stated in its
literature) is to "promote culture beyond religious
and ideological differences."
An article has
appeared in the local paper about the
disgraceful condition of the colonnade at the church
of San Francesco di Paola
in the largest square of the city, Piazza Plebescito.
The defacement by graffiti
is incredible, as it is elsewhere in the city, but
this is one of the most visible sites in the city. The
closer you get to the entrance to the church and
columns (if, indeed, you decide to hike across the
square from the Royal Palace)
the worse it gets; you get beyond the two statues in front of
the church (themselves defaced) and up the stairs to
the church, and it is very ugly, indeed.
brand-new busses, bought, paid for and ready to
roll, have been sitting at the ANM (Azienda napoletana
mobilità—Neapolitan Transist Authority)
garage in the suburb of Agnano forever. They were
bought in 2001 and have never been used. No one seems
to know why. Mechanics report that the busses are
excellent sources for scavenging spare parts, though.
Maybe that's something.
Signs such as
"Institute for Medieval Studies" grab my attention.
The institute was founded in 2005 on the premises of
the monastery and church complex of Santa Chiara. It is a
collection of scholars whose aim is to study medieval
Franciscanism, specifically as it relates to the
person for whom the institute is named, William of Alnwick
(1275-1333), a Franciscan friar and theologian
mentioned (though less prominently) in the same broad
group of scholars as Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and
Duns Scotus. Alnwick was in Naples for a number of
years under the protection of King Robert the
Wise. Alnwick had fled to Naples after a
disagreement with Pope John XXII's position on
poverty. (Alnwick was for it; the Pope was against
it!) In 1330 King Robert appointed Alnwick bishop of
Giovinazzo (on the Adriatic, near Bari).
(through July 5) at the Pignatelli
museum is a grand exhibit of the works of
Gemito (1852-1929) sometimes referred to as the
"Neapolitan Rodin." (The photo shows his own version
of himself.) There will be 70 pieces of sculpture and
80 works on paper in the exhibit. Among Gemito's
larger works on permanent display in the city of
Naples is his statue of Charles V of Hapsburg, one of
the eight statues
arrayed along the west façade of the Royal Palace.
The Cumana railway.
Sooner or later, tourists discover that there is
another narrow-gauge railway in Naples besides the Circumvesuviana (which
runs to points east such as Pompei and Sorrento).
Traffic to the west, that is, to Bagnoli, Pozzuoli, and the Campi Flegrei depends on the
Cumana-Cicumflegrea railway, called, simply, the
"Cumana." The Naples terminus is at Montesanto
(photo); there are then two lines: the "outside" coast
route through Fuorigrotta, Bagnoli, Pozzuoli and Baia;
and the "inside" line through Soccavo and Quarto.
There are about 15 stops on each line, and they both
terminate at the same station, Torregaveta, at the
extreme west end of the Gulf of Naples. The two routes
are essential for students and workers getting into
the city from the west. They may become more important
for visitors as tourist trade picks up with the new Campi Flegrei museum in
Baia and recent emphasis on archaeology in that area.
There is, indeed, a Baia station adjacent to the lower
echelons of the Baia Archaeology Park—if you are
prepared to leap from the window of the flying train
as it passes through that station, currently under
rebuilding in anticipation of increasing tourism.
(It's somewhat of a chicken-or-egg thing.)
After the first
exhibit in Paris in 1957 and the second one in
Venice in 1964, this Third International Exhibit for Restoration
and Preservation is currently running at the
Royal Palace in Naples. It is
an astonishingly complete display of about 270
film-poster-sized panels, each dedicated to some
aspect of the preservation and restoration of cultural
artifacts currently underway in 40 countries around
the world. These include everything from grand palaces
to small churches to "vernacular architecture,"
meaning structures built by ordinary people not to be
grand, but simply to be lived in. There are sections
devoted, as well, to the preservation of gardens and
"cultural landscapes" (things such as terraced
hillsides). The exhibit is, as might be expected,
heavy on Italy, with a separate section devoted to
each region of the nation. Naples has its own separate
display, including a section devoted to the life and
work of Prof.
Roberto Pane, local urbanologist, whose
3-volume work, The
Historic Center of Naples (1971) was a
ground-breaking and exhaustive inventory on the
monuments of the inner city and their needs in terms
of restoration and preservation. Runs through May 19.
The Royal Palace at Caserta
hosts an exhibition entitled "At the Court of Vanvitelli," celebrating the
life and work of this famous architect, active at the
royal Bourbon court from 1750 until his death in 1773.
Sixty paintings are on display as well as a selection
of sculpture by Giuseppe
Sanmartino, creator of the remarkable "Veiled
Christ." Runs through July 6.
TheState Archives of Naples
are located in the ex-monastery of Saints Severino and
Sossio It is one of the largest and oldest buildings
in the city with origins going back to the original
structure in the year 902 AD. It is occupies 25,000 sq
meters and has 50,000 linear meters of shelves, many
of which contain unique documents crucial to the study
of the art and history of southern Italy. According to
the director, 80 million euros are needed to prevent a
"tragedy" due to humidity and water seepage. A
proposal has been made to transfer the contents of the
archives to the old Castel
Capuano at the east end of via dei Tribuali, a
building that used to house the city courts until they
moved to the new Civic
Capuano is large enough and now mostly
In late April, the Spanish Quarters of Naples
are due for a "radical cleaning," according to sources
at the city hall. That area is the intimidating
labyrinth of streets north of Piazza Plebiscito on the
west side of via Toledo. All streets will be closed to
traffic from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m for four days and
there will be no parking during those hours not even
for residents, as clean-up crews go through. They are
not just going to clean the streets. The major focus
will be on clearing away the great amount of
cumbersome, unsightly refuse such as abandoned wrecks
of motorscooters and discarded furniture in this area
where normal clean-up by standard crews and equipment
is often very difficult during normal morning working