Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding More in Centro

Way back when, in my “wander around downtown Naples” early days, I blogged here about going into a church and finding that underneath it were some pretty spectacular Roman ruins. With our friends in town last week, I’d planned my normal “Tour of Centro,” to include Capella Sansevero for my favorite sculpture in the entire world, pizza at Sorbillo, then a little walk to catch a few churches. They were interested in churches and ruins, and I remembered this place, located only a couple of blocks from the pizzeria. Entering, we dutifully paid our 9euro entry fee (7euro with the ArteCard or for over 65), and once inside, I found a huge part of the Chiesa di San Lorenzo Maggiore complex that I’d missed on my prior stealth visit. There are two chapels with the most amazing frescoed ceilings. One lights up with motion sensors when you enter, and the lights start out dim as you walk forward, gazing raptly at the ceiling. By the time you reach the altar, the lights are full strength, and you can then turn to see the majesty of the ceiling.

So in answer to a question I’m constantly asking myself, “Nope, not tired of frescoes yet.” I admit to being a little jaded to the churches. They’re all just so beautiful that they sort of run together. But frescoes never wear me down. I love all of them, from the intricate ceilings to the cutest, little bird in a corner.
At Villa Ariana, Castellammare di Stabia
The second chapel has vaulted ceilings and yet another frescoed ceiling in a completely different style. We spent quite awhile in both chapels just in awe. Then, heading below ground to the ruins, I was reminded of just how amazing they are and how these sorts of things most likely exist underneath every structure in centro. There are several hallways that visitors can wander at will, up a few stairs here to yet another section, down this dead end tunnel, ending at a large floor mosaic to enjoy, and down another hallway with barrel arches still in place, until finally, we climbed more stairs through the ruins and up to modern day street level. The actual church was closed for the afternoon, which just leaves for something else wonderful to see on my next visit.

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