Author Archives: Stephen Dean

Walking Through the Streets of Naples (Video)

Naples City

Sofia Loren

Born in 1934 in Rome. Sofia Villani Scicolone, this is his real name, spent his childhood in Pozzuoli. He began his career at the age of fourteen by taking part in beauty contests, reciting novels and films in minor films under the name of Sofia Lazzaro.

Only since 1952, with “La Favorita”, choose the name of art that makes it famous in the world.
It is in the role of the exuberant pizza maker in “The Gold of Naples” in 1954, directed by Vittorio De Sica, that the actress met the great favor of the public, interpreting the character of the astute and frank, that will bring her so much success also in the following years. The turning point of his career came thanks to the meeting with the producer Carlo Ponti, who later became her husband in Mexico in 1957 and brought her to Hollywood, where she worked with the most famous directors and stars of the United States.

Their marriage caused a small scandal in the Catholic world due to a previous marriage of her husband.
But the celebrity in the international field came in 1960 with the film masterpiece of the director Vittorio De Sica “La ciociara”, based on the novel by Alberto Moravia: with the interpretation of the genuine populace victim of the violence of war, won the Oscar as best actress.

The same De Sica then wanted it in a series of exceptional Italian comedies alongside the great actor Marcello Mastroianni; to remember above all the film “Matrimonio all’italiana” taken from the comedy by Eduardo De Filippo “Filumena Marturano”.

His other significant films were “La contessa di Hong Kong” of 1967, directed by the great “Charlot” Charlie Chaplin, and “A particular day” of 1977, directed by Ettore Scola; in the latter film he played at very high levels, winning the David di Donatello, the Nastro d’argento and the Globo d’oro, playing the role of an unhappy housewife on the day when Hitler came to Rome to visit Mussolini. In 1991 People Magazine elected her among the most beautiful women in the world and received an Oscar for her career, as a recognition of her talent and her destiny as a star.

In 1999 he received the David di Donatello award for his extraordinary career in Napoli.

How to get to Vesuvius

Directions to Vesuvius By Car

If you have your own car you can reach the Vesuvius by taking the A3 Napoli – Salerno motorway to the Ercolano or Torre del Greco exits:

From Ercolano

At the exit of the Ercolano tollgate turn left under the highway bridge, go along Via Boscocatena, go straight to the crossroads of Via Benedetto Cozzolino; after the crossroads go straight on along Via San Vito, where you can admire the homonymous Baroque church. Left behind the church, after 2 kilometers of twists and turns (photo on the left) you reach the junction with the road that goes up from Torre del Greco, but you have to keep going up.

From Torre del Greco

At the exit of the Torre del Greco toll booth, turn right and go straight back to the crossroads; once you have passed the crossroads, go on first to Via De Nicola then to Via Vesuvio; after an easy path of 3 km you reach the junction with the road that climbs from Ercolano, parallel to the restaurant La Siesta, where you have to turn right and go up (photo on the right).

Leaving the aforementioned crossroad behind you, you continue to climb again and after 3 km you come across a new crossroads (at the Zi Rosa Restaurant): turning right you can reach the historic Hotel Eremo, the Church of S. Salvatore, the old and the new Vesuvian Observatory; if you want to reach the crater, instead, you must go straight. Shortly before the altitude of 1000, the road forks once again into two branches (photo on the left): one reaches the area of ​​the former lower station of the chairlift (the plants have been dismantled for some time), from where an excellent overview, the other stops at an altitude of 1000 where there is ample parking and where you have to continue on foot.

Directions to Vesuvius by Train, Bus or Taxi

If you do not have your own car, you can reach the Vesuvius by public transport. If you are coming from Capodichino airport you need to take the bus to the central station (Piazza Garibaldi). Even those arriving in Naples with the FS trains must get off at the Napoli Centrale station. From the latter, take the Circumvesuviana Railway and get to the Ercolano-Scavi station. Even those coming from Sorrento or Pompeii can reach the Ercolano-Scavi station using the Sorrento-Naples and Pompei-Naples routes of the Circumvesuviana. In the external square of the station operates a regular bus service, run by the Vesuviani Transport, and taxis that in little more than half an hour lead to the Vesuvio (quota 1000).

Directions to Vesuvius the Stretch on Foot

Once you reach the altitude of 1000 by car, bus or taxi, from the parking lot you have to continue on foot using a steep path that takes about 20 minutes to the edge of the crater. Access to the crater is payable and is only allowed with the accompanying guides on site. We recommend clothing suitable for a mountain path that exceeds 1000 meters of altitude.

Royal Palace

This harmonious structure dominates Piazza del Plebiscito.

It was built to a design by the architect Domenico Fontana and work was begun on the construction in 1600 to coincide with the arrival in Naples of King Philip II.

The building work lasted for more than fifty years; during the final phase the imposing staircase at the main entrance was completed.

The building, as it appears today to the tourist’s admiring gaze, owes its present form to a series of transformations, modifications and renovations carried out over the centuries; these have left only the façade and the “cortile d’onore” (courtyard of honour) unaltered in their original appearance.

The palace was renovated and extended in the first half of the 18th century, and restored by Gaetano Genovese who bought about some substantial neo-classical transformations to the building, following a fire which had damaged it at the time of Ferdinand II (1837).

The last restoration work was carried out in 1994 when the palace hosted the summit of the G7 (the seven most industrialized countries in the world).

The impressive façade above which stands a clock with a small ribbed campanile, contains two mighty rows of windows, alternating with pilaster strips.

On the ground floor, the original portico was partly modified by Vanvitelli for reasons to do with the building’s stability.

Royal Palace Entrances

There are three entrances on the ground floor.

On the outside, the niches built by Vanvitelli contains statues of Naples’ most important sovereigns: Roger the Norman, Frederick II, Charles of Anjou, Alfonso of Aragon, Charles V, Charles III of Bourbon, Joachim  Murat and Vittorio Emanuele II.

In the entrance-hall, near the beautiful 17th century grand staircase by Picchiatti, modified by Genovese, is a bronze door transferred here from the Maschio Angioino; this artistically magnificent work was carried out by Guglielmo Monaco and Pietro di Martino.

Some of the palace wings now house various offices, while the National Library has been housed here since 1804, containing thousands of volumes and an important collection of papyri from Herculaneum.

Of particular interest inside the palace is the Court Theatre, a large hall on the first floor, built by Ferdinando Fuga in 1768. It was here that the royal families gathered for plays, concerts and performances.

Other halls of importance include the Central Hall, the Throne Room (containing the Portrait of Pier Luigi Farnese by Titian), and the Hercules Hall, all of which, along with many others rooms of the Royal Apartment, make up an authentic museum (The Royal Palace Historic Apartment Museum).

The museum abounds in interesting period furniture, porcelain, tapestries, gobelins and paintings from the 17th-18th centuries, mainly by local artists.

Note especially the works by Titian, Guercino, Andrea Vaccaro, Mattia Preti (Prodigal Son), Spagnoletto, Massimo Stanzione and Luca Giordano.

The 17th century Chapel is also worthy of note and clearly shows the interventions carried out by Genovese.

Maschio Angioino Castle

This castle, also called Castel Nuovo (New Castle), situated opposite the Molo Beverello on one side of Piazza Municipio, was built on the orders of Charles I of Anjou.

It was called “nuovo” (new) to distinghuish it from the city’s other castles, and it is named Maschio Angioino in honour of Charles of Anjou.

Its construction was undertaken in the second half of the 13th century under the Angevin sovereign who entrusted the work to the French architects Pierre de Chaulnes and Pierre d’Angicourt even though Vasari assigned  the project to Giovanni Pisano.

Almost two centuries later, Alfonso I of Aragon took measures to carry out considerable renovations and rebuilding work which practically led to its total reconstruction. This work, which was carried out in the first half of the 15th century, was assigned to masters from the Tuscan and Catalan schools who left their own architectural mark on the building.

It was during this period (1455 – 1468) that the Triumphal Arch was erected: from an architectural, artistic and stylistic point of view, this is one of the finest elements in the whole complex.

It can easily be defined as one of the most outstanding works of Renaissance honorary architecture, since it represents an inseparable union between the art of the most important sculptors of the time, and the traditional canons of the Roman celebratory arch from which the former clearly gained its inspiration.
The arch stands admirably between the Torre di Mezzo (Middle Tower) and the Torre di Guardia (Watch Tower), forming a clear chromatic contrast between its own whiteness and the darker piperno (a particular kind of trachyte often used in Naples for building).

Constructed to celebrate Alfonso I of Aragon’s entrance into Naples (24th February 1443), the arch is a complex structure made up of an archway flanked by Corinthian columns placed side by side (in the intrados there is some relief work depicting Alfonso among Relations and Dignitaries of the Kingdom); these columns support an attic storey which holds the splendid sculptural representations of Alfonso I making his Triumphal Entrance into Naples.

Above the attic is a second arch  which opens between coupled Ionic columns; these support a second attic decorated with niches containing the statue of Temperance, Strength, Justice and Magnamity.
Dominating this remarkable achievement is a semi-circular tympanum bearing the allegorical representation of two rivers, and above this stands the statue of the Archangel Michael.

The most prominent names of those responsible for the admirable cycle of sculptores include Francesco Laurana, Domenico Gagini, Isaia da Pisa and Pére Johan.

Having been renovated and modified several times (16th – 18th centuries), The Maschio Angioino today displays the 15th century appearance it assumed following conservative restoration work carried out in the first half of the 20th century.

The castle has provided the setting for many historical events.
Within its walls Pope Celestine V pronounced his decision to abdicate, laying the ground for Boniface VIII.
It was frequented by literary men like Francesco Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, and by the artist Giotto who painted some frescoes here, though these have been lost.

The castle is surrounded by a long, deep moat which used to be covered by the sea.
It is said that many prisoners were thrown into the moat where their bodies mysteriously disappeared.
After a series of inspections, a hole was discovered through a crocodile used to enter the moat and devour the bodies of the unfortunate victims. The huge reptile was killed and stuffed, and hung above one of the castle doorways where it remained until the mid-19th century.

Within Castel Nuovo it is possible to visit the Palatine Chapel, the Baron’s Hall and the Civic Museum.
There is a curious story regarding the caste’s great bronze doorway which still has a cannonball embedded in it. This was apparently fired by accident by French soldiers who were defending the castle from an attack by the Spanish. They are said to have fired it from the inside while the doorway was being closed.

The Palatine Chapel, with its square plan, is characterised by its cross vaulting with windows very similar to those of the church of Santa Chiara. The chapel is also known as the Church of Santa Barbara or San Sebastiano and is said to have been painted by Giotto, but very little remains of this work. Inside the chapel some interesting sculptures by Laurana and Andrea dell’Aquila can be seen, as well as traces of frescoes by Maso di Banco.

The Museo Civico di Castelnuovo, only recently founded (1990), is situated in the St. Barbara Hall and on the two floors above this in the eastern wing of the castle of the same name, better known as Maschio Angioino.

The museum contains a collection of 14th century frescoes come from the Castello di Casaluce, in the province of Caserta. Others from the 15th century were brought here from the Neapolitan  Church of the Annunziata which has been in disuse for many years. The St. Barbara Hall contains fragments of sculptures by Neapolitan artists, produced around the middle of the 15th century, as well as tabernacles by Jacopo della Pilla and Domenico Gagini, and statues by other artists from the same period (of special note is the Virgin Mary with Child by Laurana).

Of particular interest on the second floor is the panel painted by an unknown Neapolitan from  the 15th century.

There are also works by important artists such as Battistello Caracciolo, Mattia Preti, Francesco Solimena and Francesco Jerace.

The silver exhibits are also on this floor: of particular note among the most valuable and beautiful ones is the Blessed Virgin by Giuliano Finelli, a 17th century artist from Carrara, and a St. Barbara by Lelio Ciliberto.
The third floor contains two magnificent works by Vincenzo Gemito, the Boy’s Head and the Fisherman.

The National Archaelogical Museum of Naples

The National Archaelogical Museum of Naples can be considered one of the most important cultural centres in the world in terms of the quantity and quality of Greek and Roman relics it contains.

The museum building was constructed in 1585, on the hill of Santa Teresa, then a solitary spot but now surrounded by the chaotic traffic of Naples city centre.

The building was originally a Cavalry Barracks, built by order of Don Pedro Giron, Duke of Ossuna, viceroy of Naples; was later used as a University, and was finally turned into a museum under Charles of Bourbon.
The National Library was also situated here for a long period, up until 1922 when it was transferred to the Royal Palace.

The initial nucleus of the museum was established by Charles of Bourbon to display the Farnese collection which he inherited from his mother.

However, the subsequent enlargement of the immense artistic patrimony, determined by the addition of remains found in the archaeological excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia, led to the search for new premises, and Afrodite the transfer to the present building.

It is practically impossible to mention every one of the enormous number of relics and works on display here, which makes the National Archaeological Museum of Naples one of the most authoritative and prestigious collections in the world; we will instead limit ourselves to some of the most important artistic works.

It should also be remembered that a change in exhibiting criteria has led, in the last few years, to a new arrangement of the areas open to the public.

Most notable among the various exhibits and rooms are the Farnese Hercules, from the Roman Baths of Caracalla; the Farnese Cup a splendid example of cameo, once a part of the Medici collections; the Halls of Villa Papyri, where numerous sculptural exhibits are displayed, brought here from the excavations at the Herculaneum villa; the Halls of the Temple of Isis, containing frescoes and other material from Pompeii, once kept in the museum’s store-rooms; the Doryphorus, an admirable copy from the original by Polyclitus, from Pompeii; the relief showing the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice; the “Tirannicides”, Aristogeiton and Harmodius, the magnificent Roman copy of a Greek original of the 5th century BC; the Venus Callypige, from an Hellenistic original; the Farnese Bull, also from Capua; the small bronze of the Dancing Faun; the mosaic showing the Battle of Issus.

Completing the vast array of exhibits are paintings from Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia, sculptures, small bronzes, and a collection of vases.

Among the latter, note the vases originating form Etruria, Attica, Lucania, Apulia and Campania.
Among the exhibits linked to Etruscan culture, the Small Bronze of a Donor (5th-4th centuries BC) is of considerable importance; it was found in the Commune of Capoliveri (Island of Elba) at the end of the 16th century.

Vesuvius Travel Guide

Vesuvius is the most famous volcano of the earth, the only active in continental Europe and is also one of the most dangerous because the vast territory that extends to its slopes has seen the construction of houses up to 700 meters of height. It is a typical example of an enclosed volcano consisting of an outer trunk cone, Monte Somma (1133 meters), with a largely demolished crater wall surrounded by a smaller cone represented by Vesuvius (1281 meters), separated by a depression called Valle del Gigante, part of the ancient caldera, where later, presumably during the eruption of 79 AD, the Great Cono or Vesuvius was formed.

The Valle del Gigante is divided in turn into Atrio del Cavallo to the west and Valle dell’Inferno to the east. The enclosure of the Somma is well preserved throughout its northern part, in fact it was less exposed in historical times to the devastating fury of the volcano, because it was sheltered from the height of the internal wall that prevented the outflow of lava on its slopes. The slopes, variously degrading, are furrowed by deep radial valleys produced by the erosion of rainwater. Its walls from part of the cone appear to peak.

The whole section is then strewn with spikes and ditches of dark volcanic rock. The old crater rim is a succession of tops called cognoli. While the height of the Sum and its profile have been preserved the same over the centuries, the height and profile of Vesuvius have undergone considerable variations, due to subsequent eruptions, with rises and lowerings. Vesuvius is a characteristic polygenic and mixed volcano, that is, composed of lavas of different chemical composition (for example trachyte, tephrite, leucitite) and formed both by lava flows and pyroclastic deposits. All the areas on the slopes of the mountain are to be considered formed by lands transported by mud lava that descend from steep slopes in the rainy seasons through deep and narrow valleys called riverbeds or more commonly spiders.

The high banks are formed by heaps of lava slag, which precipitated in the incandescent state and spread to the low slopes, are now revealed because of their fertile material, rich in silicon and potassium, precious for the vegetation. On colder days the condensation of the vapors makes visible the fumaroles present in numerous points of the inner wall of the crater. Continuing along the edge of the crater, looking towards the sea you can see the entire extension of the southern part of the volcano and, on days with good visibility, all the Gulf of Naples from the Sorrento Peninsula and Capri to Capo Miseno, Procida and Ischia. It is also inevitable to note the reckless urban expansion that goes back along the slopes of the volcano.

The eruptions 

The eruption of 79 AD

The eruption began on August 24, 79 AD around noon. The first eruptive phase was characterized by strong phreatomagmatic explosions. After this phase, magmatic explosions followed one another until the morning of the following day, feeding a column made up mainly of gas, pumice and ashes that rose up to 30 kilometers. The upper part of the column expanded, assuming the shape of a pine tree, and was pushed by the winds towards the south-east. The particles contained in it fell to the ground, forming a thick layer of pumice that reached Pompeii and Oplonti reached 2-3 m. thick. Partial collapse of the eruptive column generated pyroclastic flows that spotted at high speed along the sides of the volcano, reached and destroyed Herculaneum.

The city of Pompeii, much further away, it was not reached and most of its inhabitants survived. During the last hours of the night the intensity of the eruptive activity diminished.
In the early hours of the morning of August 25, a phreaticomagmatic explosion generated pyroclastic, turbulent flows – the terrible “base-surge” – which, traveling at the speed of a hurricane, descended the slopes of the volcano, devastated the surrounding areas up to distances of 15 kilometers and caused numerous victims even among the inhabitants of Pompeii who had survived the first phase of the eruption. During the day the explosions decreased in intensity and, in the evening, ceased altogether, leaving a large blanket of ashes and pumice on a vast area. The heavy rains, also caused by the introduction of enormous quantities of steam and fine particles into the atmosphere, mobilized this material.

The eruption of 1631

The 1631 eruption was the most violent and destructive in the history of Vesuvius in the last millennium. After a long period of quiescence, about 5 centuries, preceded by a series of precursory phenomena, such as earthquakes and earth lifts, the volcano reawakened causing the death of about 6,000 people and the devastation of an area of ​​almost 500 Km.2

The eruption began at 7 am on December 16th, with the formation of an eruptive column of about 15 Km., From which pumice and ashes began to fall in the area east of the Vesuvius. At 10 am on December 17, pyroclastic flows were generated from the central crater, clouds of gas laden with fragments of magma that, running at great speed along the western and southern flanks of the volcano, destroyed everything they encountered on their way. In the night between 16 and 17, and in the afternoon of the 17th, the abundant rains mobilized the incoherent ash cover causing the formation of mudslides. The castings descended from both sides of the volcano and from the slopes of the Apennine foothills to the north and north-east.

The paroxysmal phase of the eruption lasted three days, causing a huge panic among the population. On the streets of Naples there were public confessions of sins, accompanied by extraordinary manifestations of penance, and processions were organized with the statue and blood of St. Gennaro, so that the patron might placate that divine wrath of which the explosion of Vesuvius undoubted sign.

The Count of Monterrey, viceroy of Naples from January of that year, sent some ships to collect the survivors of Torre del Greco and Torre Annunziata. After a few months, deeply disturbed by the event, he made a plaque in Portici that urges posterity not to forget the nature of the mountain, and to readily recognize the precursors of a volcanic eruption.

The eruption of 1944

On March 18, 1944, during the occupation of the allied troops, the last eruption of Vesuvius began, which ended a period of activity begun in 1914, during which there had been only modest eruptions from the central crater.

Between 1914 and 1944, the lava and the slag produced by the volcano had filled the crater, 720 m wide. and 600 m deep, which had formed during the previous eruption of 1906.
A cone of slag emerged from the crater.

March 13-17

The slag cone begins to collapse and the seismic activity becomes more intense. A new cone of slag is formed and immediately collapsed.

March 18th

The eruption starts in the afternoon with slag shots. At 4.30pm a lava flow flows over the northern part of the crater and reaches the Valle dell’Inferno at 10.30pm. Almost at the same time another casting spills over from the southern part of the crater. At 11 pm there is also a lava flow from the western part of the crater: the casting runs along the funicular track and interrupts the railway.

March 19

At 11 am the lava flows along the Fosso della Vetrana.

March 20

Between afternoon and night, new flows overflow from the northern part of the crater. All effusive activity is accompanied by seismic tremor with increasing amplitude up to half of the day.

March 21st

The southern casting stops at an altitude of about 300 m. above sea level. In the night, the northern flow reaches S. Sebastiano and Massa di Somma and is divided into two branches that advance towards Cercola, from which in the evening about 1.5 km away. S. Sebastiano and Massa di Somma are evacuated and the 10,000 inhabitants transferred to Portici. Around 17, spectacular lava fountains begin to form, the last of which lasts about 5 hours and reaches a height of almost 1,000 m. Fragments of lava and ashes moved from the high winds, settle on the south-eastern areas of the volcano, between Angri and Pagani. The smallest fragments reach distances of over 200 km. towards the south-east. Scoriae up to one kilogram of weight reach the inhabited area of Poggiomarino, about 11 km. from the crater. Large quantities of still hot slag accumulate on the sides of the Gran Cono. Continue the seismic tremor, with maximum amplitude coinciding with the emission of lava fountains.

22 March

At around 1 pm the eruption reaches its maximum intensity. A column of gas and ash rises to a height of about 6 km. The upper part of the column is pushed by the wind towards the south-east, ashes and slag fall on the south-eastern slopes of the volcano. Partial collapse of the eruptive column form small pyroclastic flows that flow along the sides of the cone. An intense seismic tremor accompanies this whole phase, during which the crater gradually widens.

March 23rd

A series of explosions are caused by the entry of water into the volcanic conduit and earthquakes occur. The explosions generate columns of ash, which are pushed by the wind towards the south-west, and small pyroclastic flows flow along the sides of the cone.

March 29

The eruption ends. The morphology of the summit area of ​​the cone is profoundly modified with a new large crater depression, the same visible today.
The eruption of the ’44, although of moderate energy, caused the death of some tens of people due to the collapse of the roofs and caused serious damage to S. Sebastiano and Massa di Somma.

How to get to Vesuvius

Saint’Elmo Castle

Together with the adjacent Certosa di San Martino, this forms an important group of buildings situated on the hill on which the quarter of Vomero has grown up.

Castel Sant’Elmo was also built on the orders of Charles of Anjou: its construction, in tuff, was begun in 1329 and completed in 1343 by the work of the architects Tino da Camaino, Atanasio Primario and Francesco di Vito.

The building, whose architectural features from a distance resemble those of the Castel dell’Ovo, was one of the city’s fortifications and was used above all to protect it from invasions from the sea.

It was built where the Normans, in 1170, had a fort called Belforte surrounded by rich vegetation.
All Naples’ historic events involve Castel Sant’Elmo.

The King Charles V, through the viceroy Pedro de Toledo, rebuilt completely the castle by the work of the Spanish architect Pier Luigi Scribā, that designed the star-shaped plan of the castle.

It has witnessed numerous sieges, fierce disputes between the various dominating powers, and repeated popular uprisings, including the now legendary Masaniello revolt of 1647.

The old fort has risked destruction several times.

During the Second World War the Germans had intended to blow it up before they left Naples, changing their minds only at the last minute.

The castle, which has now been restored, having been freed from its use as a military prison, houses exhibitions of art and history and also contains the Molaioli Library of Art and a videotheque which supplies information on all of the city’s monuments.

The complex also contains the 16th century Church of Sant’Elmo and the Chapel of Santa Maria del Pilar (17th century).

From the communication trenches and the Castle’s upper square there is an extensive view over the city and Vesuvius, the Neapolitan plain, and the marvellous gulf bounded by Capri and the profile of the Phlegraen islands.

It is worthy to visit the Church of St. Erasmo that has a rich floor in maiolica and tile. Behind the altar there is the tomb of Pietro de Toledo, a viceroy’s relative and first lord of St. Elmo.

In front of the entrance of the church there are the prisons where were imprisoned, among many others :

  • the Princess Giovanna di Capua
  • Tommaso Campanella
  • Angelo Carasale the architect of the San Carlo theatre and many revolutionaries
  • Mario Pagano
  • Domenico Cirillo
  • Gennaro Sessa di Cassano
  • Francesco Pignatelli
  • the Count Ettore Carafa
  • Luigia Sanfelice
  • Pietro Colletta
  • Carlo Poerio
  • Silvio Spaventa
  • and many others. 

Dell’Ovo Castle

dellovo castle

Built on the small island of Megaride, which it is said the place where the Mermaid Partenope got entangled, Castel dell’Ovo rises up in the centre of the gulf, between the marina of Mergellina and the Borgo Marinaro, a short distance from the Villa Comunale.

It was the place where the Cumani founded the first part of the city during the 6th century BC.
In Roman times the site was occupied by the Castrum Lucullum, a fort belonging to the Roman patrician, Lucius Licinus Lucullus, an immensely rich man .

In this place St. Patrizia sheltered from his uncle, emperor of Eastern; the Duke Sergio’s soldiers expelled the monks to built a garrison and, during the centuries which followed, the Normans  and the Angevins extended and fortified the tuff building.

The castle was the royal residence of Charles I of Anjou and of Alfonso of Aragon and in the 17th century it was converted into a prison where was imprisoned also Romolo Augustolo, the last Roman Emperor,  the monk and philosopher Tommaso Campanella, the Princess of Acaja, the King Manfredi’s son and several liberals among them was Francesco de Sanctis.

The castle is well worth visiting.  Note especially the bastions constructed in yellow tuff, the Monks’ Refectory and the splendid view of the gulf from the terraces  on the upper levels, taking in the promontory of Posillipo and the island of Capri which rises up in front of it.

According to a medieval legend, the Roman poet Virgil, who in ancient times was considered a powerful wizard, hid an egg inside a jug hanging in one of the rooms of the castle. Tradition has it that when the egg falls and breaks, the castle and the entire city will fall to ruin.

The interior of the fortress contains medieval structures and includes examples of both Gothic style and much older remains, such as the ruins of a place of worship named after San Salvatore.

Also worthy of note are the Torre Maestra (Master Tower) and the Torre Normandia (Normandy Tower).