There are other less known sights that you could only reach on foot from Spaccanapoli due to a scarcity of public transportation and a strictly local habitat like for example the “Fontanelle caves”, it’s a cemetery that was used during the plague to bury, more like toss, the enormous amounts of dead people. Later on, all was forgotten, but one day it poured down heavily and the city was flooded with bones and skulls. Respecting the dead ancestors, a catholic priest sorted these bones in shelves and placed them back in the caves. The Neapolitans adopted their favourite skulls, gave them names and started caring for them bringing some luck coins, cigarettes, stickers, icons, religious pictures and statues and it became a cult used for fortune telling and guessing Lotto numbers. The church tried to control the myth that they built Santa Maria del Carmine chapel next door to the caves but that never worked.
The caves have been closed and renovated over the course of years and recently opened to the public as a historical sight with little explained yet intriguing and a little scary. It was cool on a hot afternoon to wander around those caves that were formed by the volcano and the roman passion for building a water system underground.
The walk to the “Fontanelle” is a cultural trip on its own, starting from the market near “Piazza Cavour” till the cemetery. In a few minutes; shops and signs of tourists will disappear as you keep going straight from an alley to a street and from a street to the other. Greeting the elders sitting in front of their doorsteps and enjoy observing the way people have ornamented their balconies and rooftops as if these objects had a life on their own.
It was an hour walk that I completely avoided on my way back by climbing the steps found by coincidence, they were next to a small piazza where I took a seat to catch my breath. From there, I had to walk 15 mins to Materdei station. Oddly enough the police patrol indicated there were no nearby public transportation and I had to take a one hour walk to go back to Piazza Cavour…eh!
Via Duomo is full of museums passing by the cathedral of Napoli to the Archeological museum in Piazza Museo, it can also be accessed from the metro station. The museum is the largest in the city and Campania overall, it is a converted palace that has a diversity of antique collections, art pieces and relics from Pompei to Ancient Egypt. Strongly recommended for museum lovers. Beware though, it’s closed on Tuesdays.
Before we move away from Napoli, I urge you to try out the easter pastry or pastiera as neapolitans call it. A pasta frolla made with pork lard (so don’t if your dietary habits disagree with pork) not butter filled with ricotta and eggs mix flavoured with some citrus fruit or rosewater or berries depending on the season and the baker. I also enjoyed buying fresh fruits from street sellers and eat them on the spot after washing ’em in one of the water fountains on the street just like the rest of Italy of course; a roman effect. ‘
Napoli is not a city, it’s a living culture and a muse. Speaking the language will definitely impress the locals, but that’s not the only upside, it’s just an enabler, a key to their best kept secrets. The more you talk, the more you get…
You know what they say about pick pockets and robbery in Napoli? It’s all true…
I got stolen by a pick pocket, a couple of them actually. The reason was that I’ve let my guard down in that particular moment and put back my wallet, after buying a fridge magnet from Corso Vittorio Emmanuel near the station, in the outer pocket of my back pack and carried it on my back not to the front which is a huge huge mistake. I must have been immediately labeled as the naive model of a tourist who is so oblivious. I had felt it happening and stopped one of them, made a scene and had an old guy call the police but it was useless, they work in pairs one hits and the other runs.
And you know what they say about Italian police?? That’s all so true…Mr. policeman was rugged and handsome, gently asking me if I needed any special help from their side other than finding my belongings of course because that never happens.
The advantage of that situation, other than getting acquainted with the legendary Italian policemen, was that I didn’t carry all my cash or my passport around. My documents were at the apartment where we stayed. Next time I’d split my cards aswell. How Idid I survive afterwards? I had amazing friends who lent me some cash for the day and a spare credit card…One trick f you have a VISA platinum is to ask them to provide an emergency fund once you report your card stolen.