The esoteric side of Naples

Given that superstition and faith have always characterize the city, Naples is the perfect place where to take an alternative itinerary. The historic city center is especially rich in streets and churches that have given birth to local myths and legends. For this reason, you cannot miss the church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, which is located in Via dei Tribunali. Just beneath the church, that dates back to the 17th century, there is a cemetery which has become famous for the cult of the purgatory souls, that the Neapolitans call ‘anime pezzentelle’ (poor souls). Some of the skulls are daily adopted by the citizens who usually take care of them in exchange for a grace. A similar practice takes place at the ‘Cimitero delle Fontanelle‘ in Rione Sanità, a nearby district. In this tuff cave the bodies of the people who died during the epidemy in 1656 are buried and their little skulls, called ‘capuzzelle’, are also adopted by the Neapolitan devoted. The most important two skulls are: the Captain, which is thought to be kind of mysterious, and Donna Concetta, that seems to sweat every time one asks for a grace.

Then take a stroll down to reach the San Severo Chapel, located near San Domenico Maggiore square, in via Francesco de Sanctis. Here, the Baroque style and chemistry coexist and give birth to a unique spectacle. The most outstanding masterpiece is the Veiled Christ, a sculpture made by Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. It is a portrait of a life-size dead Christ, entirely made of marble, lying on a bed with his head placed on two pillows. At the bottom there are a crown of thorns, a pincer and the nails and tools of the torture. The naked body is covered by a veil from which it is still possible to distinguish every muscle and blood vessel. You cannot miss the Anatomic Machines, that is to say two skeletons of a man and a woman which are safeguarded in two shrines. What stands out the most about them is their arteriovenous system that is still clearly visible and intact. Nowadays, the technique used by the artist Giuseppe Salerno to recreate such accurate circulatory system is still unknown.

Walking distance: 2,3 miles

You can reach it by underground, Line 1, Dante station.

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