A few days have passed since the "incredible discovery" of the "Templar" crosses in the Neapolitan subsoil, as reported in the web version of an Il Mattino article of April 14, 2011. I feel compelled to have my say about this, if for no other reason than to try to give back to Italian and Neapolitan speleology the respect that it deserves.
I have already commented on this story, but I have only just now read the paper edition of the article that appeared on the same day (and a follow-up that appeared today, April 19, 2011). It was fun to look at their video on the web (search I TEMPLARI NELLA PIETRASANTA), shot beneath the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta in dim light that created the appropriate gloom (the site is normally lit up like noon by neon lighting!); you can't really see the crosses in their video, but you can see them in our Napoli Underground video from 2009 (linked at the end of this article).
So, let's start at the beginning and try to unveil the "mystery." I intend to be argumentative, and I invite those who feel called upon to respond to do likewise.
The journalist, aided by a "speleologist" who claims to be in charge of the subsoil beneath that church, reports the discovery of 12 "Templar" crosses at a well-defined location. To wit: "the first one is found at a crossroad in the cavity—at the entrance and to the right of the fork. Following that path you pass some tens of meters beneath Largo [square] Proprio D'Aramiello (sic!) [transl. note: the 'sic' is in the original to indicate that the article has misspelled the name of Largo Proprio D'Arianello]; turning to the right, again, you are beneath the Diaz Institute, and keeping on in that direction you get to a point exactly beneath the Palazzo of the Prince of Sansevero. At that point, the way becomes less winding and becomes incredibly straight, like a spindle: a long corridor some 50 meters long that leaves the Palazzo of the Prince of Sansevero, Raimondo di Sangro, and winds up exactly beneath the altar of the church of the Pietrasanta at the spot of the "cemeterium" (the area beneath churches where bodies were prepared for burial). It seems that those crosses were positioned as markers to show the path... the Pietrasanta is exactly across from the front of the Palazzo of Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero."
In the first place: no one is in charge of the subsoil in question, an area that spreads out well beyond the area directly beneath the church. That area belongs to everyone and, indeed, can be accessed from various parts of the city. Naturally, you can stand by an entrance and keep others from entering (how fortunate that there are quite a few entrances!)
In the second place: there were more than 12 crosses discovered some years ago in the stretch beneath via Tribunali, a lot more. (But there are fewer crosses of "complex" manufacture. I repeat that they are spread throughout the subsoil of Naples; we have some examples on our Napoli Underground website.) But I understand that the number 12 is so irresistable...how can I put it?...so "Templarish"! And don't tell me you've found some other ones. I keep seeing the same images taken from our video (as usual)!
In the third place: As I noted, you don't know the surface layout of your own city (the Pietrasanta is exactly across from the front of the Palazzo of Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero?). The Sansevero Palazzo fronts on Piazza San Domenico. Anyone who can use Google maps can see the distance for themselves; there are a number of blocks in between, but as we know, imagination conquers all! Fine, barely passing marks in the layout of the city—I understand that you were confused from the daring underground trek (I remind neophytes that every building in the ancient center of Naples is connected to the aqueduct). But as for the rest—connecting the name of the most noted Neapolitan alchemist with the basilica? With a bit of study, you might have come up something better. At this point, you might as well say that the crosses are pointing the way to the "Lombardi" pizzeria.
The journalist goes on to say that his "speleologist" guide has a project on the drawing boards to make the site "accessible even to the handicapped." This is not the first time that the pages of this newspaper have aired that "original" idea; the speleologist in question has even gone into a bit of detail in the past about his idea of a lift for the handicapped. Since I'm by nature an inquisitive person (some might even say a busybody...) I found out that there already is such a plan (on record at the Naples City Hall), to wit: "Project for utilizing the underground and subsoil spaces beneath the Pietrasanta basilica for tourism and cultural purposes." (You may check this for yourself at http://www.centrostorico.na.it/index_mdi_det.asp?ID=153). The plan is the work of architect, Carlo Natale. Wow! This site has the power to inspire, indeed! Natale's plan calls for "the installation of mechanical lifts and accessories, the restoration and installation of the sixteenth-century shrine currently stored in the basilica, and the restoration of the art collection currently in the custody of the Superintendent of Historical Artifacts of Naples...[and]...opening and using the underground and subsoil spaces of the basilica for visitors, including those who are physically handicapped." But, I forgot, everyone already knows about this project! Let's move on to the main course!
Not content with bothering the Prince of Sansevero, we now have entering upon the scene a certain Alexander Andreas (or, better, his grave stone inscribed with skull and crossed shin bones). He is described by the writer of the article as "a German mathematician and philosopher obsessively attracted by alchemy" (wouldn't you know it!). The stone is inscribed in Latin (the name and surname have, in fact, been Latinized) and the probable date of death is given as "1593." The writer regrets that so little is known of Alexander: "We know little—a number of mathematical treatises, a treatise "Of the Wars and Military Campaigns of Rome and the Kingdom of Naples during the Papacy of Paul IV in 1556 and 1557," some studies that touch on fluid dynamics and some on the uses of acid."
So, let's try to figure this thing out. There exists—existed—one Alexander Andreas, German mathematician and professor at the University of Leipzig, born in 1465. BUT (!) there also exists— existed—a very Italian Alexander Andreas (Alessandro Andrea or d'Andrea), born in 1519, a person of letters and the author of the above-mentioned treatise "Of the Wars and Military Campaigns of Rome...etc. etc." (For further information, see Biografia degli uomini illustri del regno di Napoli, ornata de loro rispettivi ritratti, volume 10, Part 2 by Niccolò Morelli di Gregorio (1825), p.412, or from 1678 the Biblioteca Napoletana, et apparato a gli huomini illustri in lettere di Napoli, e del regno delle famiglie, terre, citta, e religioni, che sono nello stesso regno. Dalle loro origine, per tutto l'anno 1678 by Nicolò Toppi, p. 7). Guess what year our Alexander died (I mean the Italian one)! In 1593 at the age of 74. Where? In Naples. And he was buried—my, my, look at this—in the church of Croce di Lucca, as reported by Niccolò Morelli di Gregorio. And the Pietrasanta? How did Alexander's grave stone with the chiseled skull and shin bones wind up over there? The church of Croce di Lucca is located on via Tribunali next to the Pietrasanta basilica. In the course of the centuries Croce di Lucca has undergone many modifications, including the most recent one of the early 1900s when entire sections of the church were demolished. Might some of the tombs and markers then not have been moved to the Pietrasanta basilica right next door? But what am I ranting about...it's better to imagine a pseudo-Templar-alchemist intent on necromancy within the Pietrasanta. Oh, I forgot the small item with which the journalist from Il Mattino closes his discourse; he reminds us that the "Jolly Roger," that is, the skull and crossbones, is a classic Templar symbol. Have we lost ourselves in fantasy? Stick to writing news stories. You'll do less harm!
The role of speleology should be to uncover the ground beneath us, not to cover it over with mounds of nonsense. What good does that do anyone? A suggestion: instead of holding forth about things they know nothing about, some "speleologists" should keep out of the way, or at least if they have to go along, go with those who know more than they do and try to help. Help take measurements or something.
P.S. I read in today's il Mattino (April 19, 2011) that the "Templars" in Naples are all excited about this, as well, in the person of Giovanni de Lutio. They want to see it all confirmed. They want the site open because now there is finally "Proof"! Sorry, they'll have to resign themselves to waiting a while longer.
P.P.S. Will you please stop using our material for your games without citing the source (Napoli Underground).
See this link for the 2009 video.
[translation by Jeff Matthews]