Wednesday, May 31, 2017

257. Farewell to Napoli


After three weeks here in Naples, my time is up and now I must move on to another adventure ... but before I close this chapter ( number 13 in my travels ), here are a few of my impressions of this hectic noisy grubby overpopulated, but charming Italian city ...

Google tells me that there are close to 500 churches in the city - a city of just over 4 million residents in the greater metropolitan area ( and probably plus another half that in daily tourists ... !!! ) ... it begs the question ( when most of those churches were built in the 17th 18th and 19th centuries - when the population was probably not even a quarter of a million ) why were so many built ... ??? ... a lot are now museums ...

Walking around the city, I was initially tempted to take a peek inside every church door I came to, but after the second day the temps had worn off and my curiosity cooled - after all there is just so much religious bling a fella can look at ... !!! ... but here are just three grand designs that took my fancy ...
 

The most imposing exterior prize must go to the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola with its portico and colanade overlooking the huge Piazza del Plebiscito and beyond to the Royal Palace ... built in the mid-1800s evidently this was used as the "royal" church and one king had an underground tunnel built connecting the church with the palace, and he would travel to mass in his horse-drawn coach via the tunnel - presumably so he wouldn't have to mix with the plebs ...


The dimensions inside the Neoclassical church are massive - the dome is 53 metres high ...


I liked this church because its lines and were so clean compared to the ornate Renaissance buildings in the older part of the city ... the gay little umbrella to the right is the papal umbraculum / umbrella and here it is kept open all the time. The umbraculum is a sign that a church has been elevated to a basilica and it is usually kept closed unless the pope is visiting - didn't see him anywhere - think he was back in Rome preparing for his meeting with the von Trump  family ...

 

and next is the huge and very imposing Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consigli - just down the road from my apartment ...


As I wandered into the church, suddenly the organ sprung into life and a bride and her entourage proceeded down the aisle to the applause of the assembled friends ...


As I wasn't an invited guest - and got some very threatening glares from a group of what looked like "Camorra family" members - I took my shots and left before I maybe got a shot from them ...


And the third church is the - again massive in scale - Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta - the Naples Cathedral ... the oldest part of the building is a side chapel dating back to 450 AD,  whereas the main Gothic structure was built in the 12th century.




The cathedral holds a vial of Saint Januarius' ( one of the city's patron saints ) blood and other relics, including his head - none of which I went looking for - saw enough heads and bones in the catacombs ...


 

Most of the lavish interior decorations are Baroque in style ...
lots of little cherubs fluttering about ...
... and severe looking "Moses types"
glaring down disapprovingly at all us scruffy tourists ...


The surrounding streets are full of shops specialising in priestly garb and choir boys' outfits etc, together with dozens of very Italianate wedding dress shops and religious souvenir shops ...

Naples is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in Europe - with evidence of Bronze Age Greek settlements dating back to 2000BC. It was settled by both the Greeks and the Romans and became part of the unified Italy in the late 18th century. Naples was the most bombed city in Italy during WW2 ( by the allied forces - then the retreating Nazis ... ) and in the decades since then, reconstruction has been hampered by natural disasters and a succession of corrupt governments and organised crime. 



The old part of the city with its narrow cobblestoned streets is the largest historical World Heritage Site in Europe and covers some 1700 hectares of nearly 3000 years of history.   







Once out of the city centre, the streets do widen a bit 
and the sunlight brings a bit of colour to the buildings ...

... but even so, it's still crowded living ...



Even my street in the suburbs is layer-upon-layer 
of apartments, people and vehicles ...

Front entrance to my apartment building - 
very calm to come home to after a day in the hectic city ...

... and at the bottom of my street - just two minutes from my front door
is the green oasis of Parco del Poggio ...

... with cloud-covered Mt Vesuvius way in the distance ...

... lots of cool shaded spots to relax with a book ...

Apartments overlooking the park - a pretty good address ...

Naples has been a great city to wander about in and explore - and during my stay here I have trod many many miles up and down dark narrow laneways - wandered in and out of churches and museums - and sat at lots of cafes people watching and generally enjoying my Italian dream ...

Galleria Umberto - shopping mall ...

Fabulous piece of 19th C architecture
now under restoration ...

 
Galleria Principe di Napoli

The Museo di Capodimonte is an art museum located in the grand 18th century Bourbon Palace of Capodimonte and is the prime repository of Neapolitan religious paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries. 
 



Photography was not allowed ... however as there were very few guards on duty in the galleries, I did manage to sneak a few shots here and there for my collection ...

 Marble by Titi Angelini - 1854



... I found this portrait to be the most beautiful painting in the collection 
and for some strange reason she had me mesmerized ...


 Santa Chiara - Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli - 1530

Naples has a pretty good, reliable and inexpensive transit system with urban buses and a sleek underground system both just a few minutes walk from my apartment and both taking me into the city centre in about 20 minutes - but it doesn't matter at what time of the day you choose to travel, the coaches are always packed tight with commuters ...


The urban authorities have been very creative with the designs of some of the newer Metro stations ... this is Toledo with its almost surreal blue tiling and lighting effects ... captured here during a brief lull in passenger traffic ...





Piazza Dante - city centre ...


So it's grab another handful of Pasta e Fagioli - then clean my apartment + pack my kit + say addio to my doorman Pepe, and hail a taxi to take me to the railway station ...
 
... and this looks like a pretty elegant way to travel - so might try my luck, hop on board, store the bags, grab a window seat and see where the red beauty takes me ...


Stay tuned ...