Friday, January 24

The Fontanelle cemetery, Naples

In Naples it is very hard not to eat continuously. Walking through the streets you see food absolutely everywhere.
So as soon as we arrived we chose a random bar and enjoyed a second breakfast. Panini napolitano, cornetti stuffed with nutella or jam, sfogliatelle and of course coffee..
We were heading for the Cimitero di Fontanelle, an old ossuary in a cave, a fifteen minute walk form the metro station at Piazza Cavour.
Food everywhere you look...
And the dome of the Santa Maria della Sanita, vaguely similar to the church dome in Positano...
There's a little bit of history coming up, stick with me, it's interesting I promise!
The ossuary was founded in the 16th century when space in the city graveyards was running out. The bones were excavated and buried these caves, filling up fast when thousands of people died during the great plague of 1656.
In the 17th century a huge flood poured through the caves and washed the remains out onto the streets. The bones were eventually returned and the caves became a huge paupers cemetery, gaining even more remains after a cholera epidemic swept through the city in 1837.
In 1872 after a priest decided to exhume and catalog all the bones a strange cult began. People started to visit the caves, bringing gifts of flowers, rosaries and small offerings. They looked after or adopted skulls, cleaning then, naming them and placing them in boxes.
THey paid their respects to those who had been too poor in life to have respect, people who had been to poor to have a proper burial. The skulls were cared for by these people up until 1969 when it was declared just a little bit too strange, bordering on fetishism, and the caves were closed.
Now the cemetery is open again to visitors, entrance is free. (Nearest metro station is Piazza Cavour.)
On our way back from the caves we came across this graffitti...It's a birth announcement, "Little Koko' is born, congratulations bro!" Yep, that's right, don't bother paying for an ad in the local paper, just spray it across the front of your house!

8 comments:

  1. Great informative post...i laughed at the biancheria intima e calzini

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    1. I know, when I used to have to hang mine in public I hid them on the line nearest to the wall and then put all the big sheets and towels on the line that was in public view!

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  2. HI Nicki, I hope your ears were not burning yesterday . :-) I met a friends yesterday in Oxford and gave them a little tour of the city. We were talking about this too and Positano .. they come from Naples , actually they come from Torre del Greco .. I met one of the girls (in their 20's) in an Italian café in London ,, and they wanted me to do a tour for them. We had such a super time , lunch and lots of chats and laughs.

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    1. Sounds like fun! Torre del Greco is where GIno is from!

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  3. Oh wow, the food looks incredible. I really want to go to Italy purely for the food and this isn't helping! Haha

    Those caves seem quite eerie - a lot like a catacombs of Paris. I imagine it's creepy at night!

    Hmm maybe...

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    1. I think a lot of European cities have these catacombs..the ones in Rome are amazing, but you're right, I wouldnt want to go at night time!

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  4. fascinating! I can only imagine how weird it got...eep! Going to have to start cataloguing all of these strange nooks for when (we finally) get back over the pond :)

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    1. AND that last picture is great. I love the laundry selection...looks like undies and socks?

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