A saint's head, bubbling blood, and a 14 foot bull, oh my!


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Europe » Italy » Campania » Naples
January 21st 2013
Published: January 21st 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

I'm going to claim jet lag or maybe just let it go as old age but I gave you an incorrect website for my sweet hotel here in Naples. The correct address is: www.lestanzedelvicere.it Thanks Jan for pointing it out.

Next I want to give a 'shout out' to Francesco and Suzy at Pub il Grotto on Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi, 88, Napoli. I pretty much fell into this place today after walking for several hours. It was only 1p.m. so the place was empty (locals start their lunch around 2 or 2:30) but he welcomed me anyway. We talked a combination of English, Spanish, and Italian. When all that failed he brought out the cook, Suzy. We were all trying to translate the word 'burro' in a chicken dish. We established it wasn't donkey. Suzy used the word 'latte' so I imitated milking a cow. Yes, she nodded. It was the best meal I've had since coming to Italy with fantastic bread, tortellini and broccoli, water, a salad, and chicken cooked in butter (burro) and lemon....all for 8 Euros. I know most people who travel in tours or come on a cruise ship would never find this place- it is right up the street from the Archaeological Museum- but it is worth going out of your way. Nothing fancy but wonderful folks and not a tourist in sight.

The Duomo or main cathedral of Naples was built in 1294 but rebuilt after an earthquake in 1456 and not finished until 1905. The main point of interest is the chapel dedicated to St. Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. As in my last trip to Italy in 2004 (Florence, Venice, Padua, Sienna) I saw a lot of relics and left over body parts. Here, in his own side chapel, in an ornate silver-gilt bust is the entire head of the saint. Wait, wait there's more! Inside the gilt bust are three vials of his congealed blood, which, it is noted, amid much religious pomp and ceremony, miraculously liquefies three times a year (on the first Sunday of May, Sept. 19th, and Dec. 16). According to tradition, if the blood fails to liquefy, the city will have bad luck. Gennaro, incidentally, is the patron saint of blood banks. Who knew? I can't wait for your comments on this story!!!!

There was so much to see at the Archaeological Museum that I barely scratched the surface. I pretty much had the place to myself- remember January, cold and rainy = no tourists. Supposedly, they have over 100,000 objects but only 10,000 on display at any one time. Whew! Apparently a lot of Pompei and Herculeum were ransacked before anyone thought of saving articles. But finally they did so a lot of things from those two sites are on display here. No one denies that the museum is poorly labeled with most signs only in Italian but, really, some things speak for themselves.

The items that fascinated me the most were the kitchen implements. Trust me folks, things haven't changed much in almost 2,000 years. The frying pans, cooking pans, spoons, scoops, and even a colander look exactly the same as we use today. Some of the glass ware and ceramics could have been on display at any local crafts fair. The delicacy, etchings, and designs were true works of art. My favorite piece is called 'the blue vase'. It was found in a tomb in Pompei and was made in a technique called 'glass-cameo': a layer of opaque white paste was placed over colored glass and then engraved with decorative motifs. Think Wedgewood.

I'm not going to describe all the item (I can hear your sigh of relief!) but let me mention a few: a bronze bust of Seneca from the 1st century BC, mosaics showing the Battle of Alexander (333 BC) that were taken from a house in Pompei, all the Farnese marble collection most from the 3rd century AD including Hercules (huge!) and the Farnese Bull (c. 200 BC) that stands 14 feet high and has 3 or 4 figures plus the bull. It was all carved from one piece of marble. Mighty impressive.

I chose my B &B because it is within walking distance of the museum and the Duomo. An added bonus is that it is deep into neighborhoods and I truly have gotten a feel for the 'real' Naples which means lots of, nois, tras, and dog doo. Unfortunately, I have not seen the Bay of Naples yet but I will when I get to Sorrento in a week or so and maybe by then it will have stopped raining. I can only hope.

Thank you to all of you who have left comments. I love to hear from you .

Carolyn/ Gunga

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22nd January 2013

Eww.
Man, medieval Europe was a little wacky with the relics. The museum sounds lovely, as does the description of the food. Pictures?
22nd January 2013

Your adventures always amaze me, Carolyn. Love hearing about your discoveries and your interactions with the local people. Happy travels, hope weather improves for you soon. Looking forward to your next entry!
22nd January 2013

love the blogs
Carolyn, Love reading about your adventures!! Your descriptions are vivid and your experiences are varied which I enjoy. I also loved going to the "out-of-the-way" places. I am sure you are enjoying every moment (good or bad) to the hilt!! Cheryl
22nd January 2013

St. Gennaro
Thanks for my laugh of the day. Only someone not raised Catholic would find anything unusual in that story!! It's no wonder we have no problem with Bros. Grimm and their ilk, when you realize we were raised on tales of saints and martyrs.
23rd January 2013

Ciao!
Hi Carolyn!!!! I am catching up on your blog and loving every word....especially about the people you are meeting! I do believe I want to be adopted by Maxim! I can see him so clearly. Great description! So glad you are on this adventure. Again you inspire me! It's my birthday so I savored your journey and pretended I was right there with you! More stories, please! Traveling Mercies, Friend!
24th January 2013

blood that liquifies?
Oh, Carolyn, I love traveling with you. Your writing is so wonderful, I really do feel like I'm walking along next to you. Please tell us more about the food. That was my delight in Milan, Verona, Turin. I would be in the same museums and neighborhoods you've selected. I can't wait for the next installment! Jill
24th January 2013

Your trip will be our guide book!
You are finding all the places that we will want to try on our next visit to Italy. You are saving us a great deal of time and agony. Wish we were with you! Chat soon.

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