Travel: Napoli Underground

Italy is a surprisingly long peninsula, requiring my trip from Venice to Napoli to last around 7 hours. Therefore, I took a night train and arrived in Napoli in the wee morning hour of 7 AM. After hauling my backpack to my hostel, I departed to explore the historic centre, without an inkling of a plan. (I had chosen Napoli as my rendezvous point so that I had easy day-trip access to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. )

2013-05-27 06.07.54

Don’t get me wrong, this city is the only one on my list that legitimately terrified me. At present, the city has one of the highest crime rates in Italy; high unemployment paired with severe waste management issues continue to plague the city. Rumors of blackmail, extortion,and illicit contract tendering have emerged questioning the ethical viability of the local government. Read up on Camorra Organized Crime for a better understanding of the powerful opponents that challenge elected officials.

 

2013-05-27 05.36.43

Some of the most interesting churches I have visited are here. In my wanderings, I stumbled into the Church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, an abode that has gained a cult-like following for the dark, yet hopeful atmosphere housed beneath it’s floors.

 

Traditionally, Roman Catholics view Purgatory as a state or place of purification or temporary punishment. It is where souls that died in a state of grace are believed to be preparing for the Beatific Vision in Heaven. No one in Purgatory will remain forever, or be banished to hell.

BelowWings

Origins of the ‘cult’ can be traced back to the early 1600s, when a church sought to establish a liturgical link between the living in the dead. The modes of worship for these souls vary, but express the possibility of developing a relationship through the ‘adoption’ and caring for of an individual’s remains. This ancient cult, survived despite wars and famines, and was so pervasive that Cardinal Ursi prohibited it in 1969, although it is still practiced.

Lucy

 

One of the most famous remains is ‘Princess Lucia.’ According to legend, the skull was that of an 18th-century teenage bride, whose tragic death evolved into her becoming the unofficial protector of young brides.

 

My next destination was a stop at San Lorenzo Maggiore; as a church and monastery, its presence is rooted in the Franciscan order, one that existing during St.Francis of Assisi‘s lifetime. Its location is at the precise geographic center of the historic center of the ancient Greek-Roman city. I was able to explore the streets of the original Roman Market at the intersection of via San Gregorio Armeno and via dei Tribunali.

2013-05-27 06.18.252013-05-27 06.24.15

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: