Arrivederci, Napoli…parting thoughts

May 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm (Art, Food, Italian journey, Italy, Travel)

I would have liked another day in Naples – actually another week would have been most welcome. For one thing, I had wanted very much to see the  Caravaggio paintings housed in various venues in the city:

Th Flagellation, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

Th Flagellation, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

The Martyrdom of St. Ursula, Banca Commerciale Italiana

The Martyrdom of St. Ursula, Banca Commerciale Italiana

The Seven Acts of Mercy, Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia

The Seven Acts of Mercy, Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia

Caravaggio, whose turbulent life would make a great movie, is one of many great artists and writers who were either born in Naples or lived some part of their lives there. Among these are Giovanni Boccaccio, author of Tales of the Decameron; the great sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the notorious and fascinating Emma Hamilton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the composers Alessandro Scarlatti and Carlo Gesualdo, to name just a few.

Like Caravaggio, Carlo Gesualdo led an eventful life marked by violence: upon finding his wife in flagrante with her lover, without hesitation he killed them both. He then fled to his castle in the mountains, where he proceeded to kill his only son because he suspected him of having been sired by his wife’s illicit amour. Talk about material for a movie!  (This bloody tale is recounted by Jordan Lancaster in her history of Naples entitled In the Shadow of Vesuvius. The author further informs us that in a trial that lasted only a single day, Gesualdo was acquitted, ‘given the well-known just cause which guided him.’  )

And yet, and yet…such beautiful music!

And speaking of music, I neglected to mention when writing about our visit to the Cappella Sansevero that while we were there, sacred music was playing softly in the background. I heard one of my favorite selections in the early music reperoire:  Miserere Mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri:

(Click here to read the history of this work – a history that involves the young Mozart.)

And speaking about music once more, I had also hoped at least to visit the Teatro di San Carlo, if not actually attend a performance there.



Alas, we got only a fleeting glimpse of this historic (1737) performance venue as our bus sped through the city.


And now, from the sublime to the merely delicious!

Among its other virtues, Naples is the birthplace of pizza – specifically, Pizza Margherita. It seems that when Queen Margherita of Savoy came to the city in 1889, Raffaele Esposito, the reigning pizzaiolo of the day, sought to create a dish in honor of her visit. His deceptively simple concoction consisted of  the basic ingredients, bread and tomato sauce, topped with the famous local mozzarella di bufala and finished off with sprigs of fresh basil. Ecco, there you have it: red, white, and green, the colors of the Italian flag!



  1. jaemarie said,

    I, too, lived abroad in Florence, Italy…and I haven’t been the same since!

    I know what you mean.

  2. SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH BOOKS » Blog Archive » Maurizio de Giovanni–EVERYONE IN THEIR PLACE said,

    […] The San Carlo Opera House may be found on the website of […]

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