Our last day in Naples wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Piazza Plebiscito and Castel Nuovo. After escaping to the Royal country home at Caserta it was time to see about city living. Piazza Plebiscito is the largest public square in Naples. Once upon a time cars were allowed to park in the square but no longer. The Royal Palace sits on the east end of the square and opposite is the Church of San Francesco di Paola.
We didn’t go into the Royal Palace. Partly because we were tired and didn’t want to mar the memories of the morning in Caserta. Seeing these last few monuments were just places to check off. It sounds terrible but does anyone have 100% enthusiasm for every major building, monument or ruin in a historic city? I did take pictures of all the former Kings of Naples which were too amusing. More
The Royal Palace of Caserta, Reggia di Caserta, is a marvelous place. It was begun in 1752 by Charles VII of Naples with his architect Luigi Vanvitelli. The Bourbon King wanted a new royal court that was protected from sea attacks. Modeled mostly after Versailles, but also the Royal Palace in Madrid and the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, Caserta reflects a mixture of Late Baroque and early Neoclassism on a large scale. Not all the rooms are open to the public but the ones that are clearly convey the palace’s splendor.
The park and English garden behind the palace are tremendous in size. When we finished touring the palace we headed towards the park. Looking at how far the fountains were from the palace we decided to rent bikes to make a quicker tour. Whoever came up with the idea of renting bicycles to tourists is brilliant. If I was wearing a period dress I could have been in a deleted scene from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
The morning had been devoted to the worship of beautiful things and after lunch we visited the Church and Cloister of Santa Chiara and marveled at Cristo Velato, The Veiled Christ in the the Chapel of Sansevero. My favorite part of Santa Chiara was the majolica cloister and courtyard. I probably wouldn’t make it in this convent long. I would be too wrapped up in the vivid colors, scenes and designs instead of focusing on my appointed mission. I’m more a Fraulein Maria than the Mother Abbess. More
The same day we visited the National Archaeological Museum we went up the hills of Naples to the Capodimonte Museum. We were on the hunt for a Caravaggio but also to see another gem of a museum. I was so excited when we came upon the Guido Reni painting of Atalanta and Ippomene. Why? Because it is the cover illustration for Richard E. Spear’s book on Reni, The Divine Guido: Religion, Sex, Money and Art in the World of Guido Reni and Spear taught at my alma mater Oberlin. Hurrah! I was never aware of where the painting lived and to discover it just hanging on the wall was thrilling.
The whole museum is filled with great paintings and drawings. If you have any interest in Michelangelo, Raphael, Masaccio, Botticelli, Perugino, Mantegna, Bellini, Jacopo de’Barberi, El Greco, Il Parmigianino, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Carracci, Goya, Francois Gerard, Angelika Kauffman, Elisabeth Vigee le Brun or Matteo di Giovanni, then you must visit Capodimonte. Thank goodness for the royals, rich families and papacy for commissioning and buying art. More
When you look at a massive marble statue you wonder how the artist conceived it. How many sketches of a model in different poses were made? Was a there a clay model? How much polishing was required to get the marble just so? The question on my mind? Are those sandals real or made up and why hasn’t any contemporary shoe designer made them yet?
These sculptures tower over you. You look up trying to catch the subtleties and your eyes wander down and around ending at the feet. The feet could have been bare, simple, strong Greek feet, but no there are these fantastic sandals.
Yes there are gladiator sandals today but nothing with this level of embellishment. Naturally if sandals like these were real they would cost more than I could spend. I’ll just watch “300” instead and admire the uh, sandals there. Mmmhmmm.
Oh hello. Is winter over yet? Is it time to come out of hibernation? Here we are. Let’s do this Naples thing! Our first official day in Naples was spent at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It houses artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum and several Roman antiquities. Being able to see bronzes and mosaics rescued from Pompeii before visiting there emphasized its glory once we got there later in the trip. As we walked through the rooms of the museum reveling in the collection it was clear that this was the most important archaeological museum in Italy. The Egyptian collection was not open since it was August and according to Cadillac only Americans work hard. No matter. More
Let’s forget about the cold weather and remember the time a few months ago when I went to Naples, Italy for the first time. This past Summer vacation was spent in Naples (5 days), then a small Aeolian island called Panarea (8 days), a few days (3) in Positano and finally 2 days in Rome to eat at a couple of favorites and see a fantastic exhibition of Luigi Ghirri photographs. Panarea was my favorite part. I love vacations but Panarea was better than anything I could have imagined.
Naples is a beautiful city packed with culture and a long, rich history. The historic sites and buildings are not as perfectly packaged as Rome. It is grittier and stranger than Rome. In the New York Times Travel section Rachel Donadio was “Seduced by Naples.” I can’t say that I was. I was intrigued and puzzled but Venice seduced me more than Naples. Perhaps Naples in the days before Pompeii was destroyed, or when the Bourbons ruled it as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I may have been seduced. More