Day 62 – Napoli

Today I visit the Castel Nuovo, also called Maschio Angioino, first built in 1279 by King Robert of Anjou. During his reign, the Castle became a center of culture attracting artists, doctors, and writers, including Giotto, Petrarch and Boccaccio. The Castle was a royal seat for kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain until 1815.

A couple of large areas in the enormous structure have been given over to art exhibitions. This particular piece speaks to me, particularly as immigrants are everywhere on Naples’ streets.

Another tired commentary on the poor, old USA. Sadder and truer than ever.

Underneath the castle have been found both an ancient burial area and Roman baths. Watching over the art exhibit, a very nice young man, who wants to practice his English, tells me about the findings. He says that these skeletons could not be Romans, because they are too tall for Romans, and he quotes the average height of Romans at the time. Great to see such enthusiasm and intellect in a 20-something Neapolitan.

He also tells me about the work surrounding the castle. Ancient ships were found during the Metro construction. Work stopped on the Metro and started on the retrieval and preservation of the ships.

I visit the Castle’s Civic Museum, thinking it would be a history museum, but instead it displays paintings and sculptures. Despite the lack of labels and context, I find that the paintings do reflect Naple’s history. I’m curious about what this scene depicts. The painting is entitled “Il Monte di Pietà,” which in a literal translation is “The Mountain of Compassion,” but it actually translates to “Pawnshop.” Early 20th century.

The museum also displays sculptures, including this relic of San Gennaro. A finger? A toe? Or? Odd to see it outside the church domain.

Views from the castle look out to Vesuvius and the port.

Next door is the Teatro San Carlo, for which I have reserved a tour. It is the oldest, continuously active, opera house in the world, opening in 1737.

The decor was originally blue, the color of the Bourbons. When the Savoia royalty came in, they switched out the blue to this rich red.

The magnificent ceiling.

The Royal Box.

Each box has a mirror, tilted so that those seated can see the King in the Royal box. This prevented viewers from reacting to a performance until, seeing how the King reacted, they could follow accordingly.

The Royal Basilica di San Francesco di Paola dominates the Piazza del Plebiscito.

Across from it stands the Royal Palace, which I enter to find these majestic stairs leading up to the royal apartments.

A portrait of Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, as a child.

I stroll through room after sumptuous room in the Royal Palace. Occasionally something of interest catches my attention, like this music table made of inlaid wood pieces.

And this device which allowed the user to read from multiple books at the same time by adjusting the metal clamps.

When Naples was bombed in World War II, the Royal Palace suffered a lot of damage. The Allied Forces moved in and took over the palace for entertainment clubs for the soldiers. The Palace lost many of its treasures and is still under reconstruction.

After the long day, I take a short cut home through the Galleria Umberto I.

I’m finding there’s so much to see in Naples. I had expected some down time, but something interesting always calls. Tomorrow I will sleep in again.

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