across from Maschio Angioino,
the gloomy fortress at the port, is the pier for ferries
and hydrofoils. It is named Molo [pier] Beverello
and includes the facility adjacent to it on the east, the
large passenger terminal built
in the 1930s (photo).
Molo Beverello and the adjacent facilities handle all of the day traffic to the Sorrentine peninsula, to the islands of Ischia and Capri, and even car and passenger traffic to Sicily and Sardinia. It also handles larger vessels on Mediterranean cruises.
Adjacent to Molo Beverello
on the west is another pier, Molo S. Vincenzo. It is little used, simply
because it is too small. The city has announced that it
going to dump 94 million euros into that part of the port.
(Who knows? —perhaps even directly
into the water, if some critics of the plan are to be
Molo S. Vincenzo, for some reason I think is what has stopped me from ever getting out onto the main breakwater of the port of Naples. It is very long and terminates in a lighthouse and a charming statue of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. Every time I try to gain access to whatever secret little passageway will get me out on that breakwater, I run afoul of some "no entry" sign around Molo S. Vincenzo. Yet, whenever I sail out through the harbor on the way "to smite the sounding furrows and sail beyond the sunset and the baths of all the western stars", I see people sitting out there, fishing! They didn't row out there, either, because I can see their cars parked nearby. They drove out there on the street (of sorts) that runs the entire length of the breakwater on the sheltered side.
Back at Molo Beverello the
other day, they found an unexploded WW2 bomb at the bottom
of the harbor near the passenger terminal while they were
dredging. About five feet long and two in diameter, the
bomb was a reminder of the days when the entire port
section of the city and other strategic sites such as the
train station were the target of Allied air-raids against
the Germans, who were occupying Naples.
The newspaper article waxed nostalgic about the possibility of still finding some legible graffiti on the bomb casing, such as "Hey, Benito — This one's for you!" Alas, there was no such historic drivel; the bomb was removed by divers of the SDAI (Servizi difesa antimezzi insidiosi) —the bomb squad— and everything returned to normal.
There is legitimate concern,
however, about the next time. There is almost certain to
be a next time, too, since dredging in the harbor will
continue for the planned renovation of a large section of
the passenger piers. Also, construction of new buildings
along the entire port-side road, via Marina, often entails
digging way down into terrain perhaps undisturbed since
1943. The entire area was a target, and the chances of
coming across even more live ordnance are high.
The port of Naples extends to the east for another mile or so. Once past the main passenger terminal adjacent to Molo Beverello, the facilities are almost totally given over to container ships and other freighters. Like any other area that has undergone a century of rebuilding, decay, bombardment, more decay and more rebuilding, the entire area along the main road that runs the length of the port is an unbelievable hodgepodge of architecture.
great boom of construction called the risanamento
at the turn of the twentieth century tore down the ancient
port facilities in order to build the main road that leads
east out of the city. That construction eliminated all but
the most obvious signs that there was ever an olden Naples
in that area; for example, city builders of 1900 left
standing a few remnants of the old Carmine Castle across from
construction during the 1930s
is responsible for many large buildings in the port,
including the main passenger terminal. The port,
especially the eastern end, was then heavily bombed in WW
II. Newer office buildings put up
over the last 20 years along the long portside road
have now repaired much of that damage, if adding to the
eye-jolt of large glass and steel buildings right next to
what is left of the church of Santa Maria di Portosalvo,
built in 1554. The tiny church was once the spiritual home
to many Neapolitan sailors. Outside the church is a stone
cross, a monument to the retaking of the Kingdom of Naples
by the Bourbons in 1799, which episode ended the short-lived Neapolitan Republic.
Near the church, across the main road and
within the port itself, at water's edge, is the only other
obvious bit of earlier Naples. It is the old quarantine
station (photo), the Immacolatella, from the
1740s. It was built to the plans of D.A.
Vaccaro, the prominent painter, sculptor, and
architect whose works are scattered throughout Naples,
including the beautiful majolica-tile
courtyard of the Church of Santa Chiara. The Immacolatella
is so-called from the sculpture of the Immaculate Virgin
above the facade.