The Line of the Two Museums
In 2001 we did, as the CSM (Southern Center for Speleology) a speleo-archeological study on the many underground structures along the route that links the National Museum to the Museum of Capodimonte. The exploration of the sites and subsequent drafting of the report was in support of a proposal that the City of Naples was studying: the construction of a rail line (cable car or rack railway) linking the two major museums in Naples.
We then issued an extract (text only) of the final report of the study. It is available in .pdf format; that is, the complete version, item by item of each individual underground space that we studied, accompanied by numerous color photos. To access the complete version you must register with Napoli Underground, which is, we remind you, absolutely free. Once registered, you can log in and download the report from the Napoli Underground library, specifically the section on Urban Speleology (Speleologia Urbana).
The route between the two museums is a cultural journey that ranges from archeology to modern art. The National Museum, repository of items that go back to the origins of the city is to be linked to the Capodimonte Museum, which holds works from all ages and artistic currents. These two museums have a common denominator in that they were both created by the Bourbons from whom we have inherited them. They are now to be joined along a line that runs from Piazza Cavour, once considered “extra moenia” (outside the walls), then through the “Valley of the Dead” and, staying underground, arrive at Capodimonte and then on to Colli Aminei and incorporate the Collinare Metropolitana (Underground/ Subway) line (still lacking in this area). Even underground, it will still be a walk through history: from the Greek city, the walls of which may still be seen at Piazza Cavour behind the large municipal building, through the Sanità quarter, Miracoli, Moiariello, the Capodimonte park, the Capodimonte Palace and Colli Aminei (Aminei Hills), all the way to the end of the line at the new Metropolitana station. In a few minutes, places will be connected one with the other that developed over 2500 years; they are all unique vestiges of our past, either displayed within these two museums or held in the earth, itself, as we pass along this route.
Naples, we know, has always been, right from the very beginning, a city with an emotional attachment to what lies underground. It is, indeed, a city born from its own bowels: every building put up before 1885, had its subterranean “negative” copy from which the tuff building material was extracted for the construction of the building itself. Ninety per cent of the Greek walls at Piazza Cavour were built with stone taken from the Greek quarry discovered in 1981 beneath the Santa Maria del Pianto cemetery; on the blocks in those walls as well as on the sides of the quarry, itself, you see the same markings (see photos 1 and 2). In olden times, Sanità, Vergini and Miracoli made up the “Valley of Death” where for centuries the Greeks interred their own dead in the hypogea [undergound chambers: singular is hypogeum] of aristocratic families (see photos 3, 4 and 5), in terraced tombs (see photo 6) or in single tombs (see photo 7). The Romans did the same thing, sometimes even reusing the old Greek hypogea (see photos 8 and 9), but also building new ones; and then, finally, the Christians, who left many catacombs, themselves unique in the world because they spread horizontally, as opposed to others, which expanded vertically.
There are many Greek hypogea and tombs in Naples, most of them going back to the 4th century BC up to the middle of the 3rd century BC. They were all found by chance in the course of building various structures over the years, and almost all of them were either looted or destroyed. Those who have projected this “Two Museums” line, as well as the Office for the Defense of the Soil (even the name says it!), are not just trying to protect the stones of these masterpieces from being further mishandled; they want the line, itself, to enhance the area as it moves through it and to give value to these items that are now almost totally forgotten and abandoned.
We must then, if even briefly, give an account of these hypogea since most of them lie in the area where the “Line of the Two Museums” will pass. As well, we don't want to lose track of any of these sites again, as has happened in the past, as we shall see.
The tombs are listed in order of their state of preservation:
Hypogeum at Via dei Cristallini 133
―Discovered by well diggers about 10 meters beneath the building of Giovanni Di Donato, it consists of four similar chambers, all off of one corridor (see photo 10). Each has an upper vestibule (see photo 12) connected by a “dromos”[entrance chamber] stairway (see photo 11) to lower hypogea (see photos 13 and14). The first chamber has a vestibule almost intact; seven tablets are missing from the walls, but an eighth one is still on site and is of marble (see photo 15). The lower hypogeum has about a 3-meter passage in the right wall cut there by tomb robbers who also destroyed three tombs. This passage leads to the second chamber, where the hypogeum is completely destroyed. There are no tombs. This is where the well diggers came in. The vestibule is among the most beautiful: tablets, headstones, funeral urns, frescoes and altars. The third chamber has a vestibule with a roofed vault, as opposed to a barrel vault in the others. The roofed vault is divided into seven rectangular sections, each sloped and set into a notched frame. Some of the tablets are missing from the walls (see photo 16). Going down the stairs, you find the hypogeum. It is perfectly intact: funeral beds, stuccoes, reliefs and frescoes that look as if they had just been completed a short time ago. It is unique in the world, considering that we know of only one other Greek fresco (of modest size, it is at Paestum in the “Diver's Tomb”.) The fourth and final chamber has a vestibule with a brick vault; the frescoes and tablets are missing. Down the stairs is the hypogeum. It is totally different from the others in that instead of frescoes on the walls there are columbaria, that is, niches for urns that contain cremated remains. That is characteristic of Roman sepulchers. This supports the hypothesis that the Romans reused many Greek hypogea.
Hypogeum at Vico Traetta alla Sanità 2
―Again, it was well diggers who found the hypogeum complex at a depth of from 7.40 to 10 meters. They wreaked havoc. From appearances it looks as if these hypogea had no vestibules. Access seems to have been from a corridor that opened to the dromos stairway (see photo 17). The corridors had sculpted Doric columns (see photos 18 and 19). There are four sepulcher chambers: in the first one you can still what is left of the funeral beds (see photo 20); the stuccoes on the walls have disappeared, but important here is the fact that the dromos still has panel-locks in place (see photo 21). Who knows what's up there? The second sepulcher chamber has no “pulvinari” (couches), but there are still stuccoes and frescoes on the walls (see photos 22, 23, 24 and 25). The third and fourth sepulcher chambers form the cover of a cistern (see photo 26); on what is left of the walls you see the two accesses to the dromos stairway, one which still seems to covered by panel-locks. You can also access this hyogeum from Via Arena alla Sanità 21; from this entrance, the stairs, built by well-diggers, cut through a lot of terraced graves (see photo 27) and single tombs, one of which today is the covering for the very same stairway (see photo 7).
Hypogeum at Via Santa Maria Antesaecula 126, on the left
―This, too, was discovered by well-diggers at a depth of about 10 meters. It was devastated. In this hypogeum we again find a vestibule with an additional frame that divides the wall into two sections in which we see niches and recesses that must have been for urns and tablets. The dromos was separated from the stairway by the well-diggers; today, it is from this stairway that you access one of the hypogea. They still have stuccoes and frescoes on the walls and frames (see photos 28, 29 and 30). One of the walls is brick (masonry) (see photo 31). From an opening in one wall you access a hypogeum that has only the vault and frame remaining.
Hypogeum at Via Santa Maria Antesaecula 126, on the right
―As usual, at a depth of 10 meters, this hypogeum must have been the most beautiful and aristocratic one. The vestibule is missing because it was destroyed by the construction of the building on the surface. There is a dromos, the access to which is surmounted by two statues sculpted in the tufa (see photo 32). The devastation of the hypogeum was total.
Hypogeum at Via Settembrini, 16
―Well-diggers found this at a depth of about 20 meters; it must have been the most ancient one given how close it was to the Greek walls. The complex has a common vestibule/corridor (see photo 33) with two accesses running off it that lead into the two hypogea at the level of the vestibule. The complex was built at the boundary of tufa rock and loose terrain; thus, the sepulcher chambers have the back walls made of Greek cuboid blocks inserted lengthwise (“al coltello"), such as to show the small square end to the viewer. The frame, with barrel vault, is ornamented with notches. One particular point regards the funeral beds; because of the lack of tufa, the beds were made with wooden beams fixed at the walls and supported by foundations still visible in the corners of the burial chamber itself (see photo 35). At their bases you can still see the imprint of the beams and, right at that imprint you can see the holes in the walls to interlock beams that were covered with boards, (and supporting them, as well) as evidenced by the notch on the wall. On the frame of one of the sepulcher chambers there are still remnants of frescoes (see photos 36 and 37). The hypothesis is that the corridor/vestibule led to another, a third, hypogeum.
Hypogeum at via della Sanità 6
―Discovered at a depth of around 11 meters, where the foundations of the building on the surface were resting. The vestibule and dromos are missing. Access is directly from a long basement. The hypogeum has a barrel vault fixed to the frame; and one wall has a hole in it, completely blocked by debris, that must have led to adjacent hypogea (see photo 38.)
Hypogeum at Supportico Lopez 32
―This is the closest one to the proposed route. The location, at a depth of around 10 meters, along an access stairway to an air-raid shelter, might lead one to believe that it was discovered in WWII when those shelters were set-up. The very little that remains of this hypogeum, however, does not really justify that hypothesis; this amount of damage could not have been caused in such a short time. You can still see the sepulcher chamber in the complex. It is rectangular with a barrel vault set on the frame. There are no stuccoes (see photos 39 and 40); the dromos, running from one of the short sides of the sepulcher chamber, is completely filled with debris and pottery shards (see photo 41) and leads us to conclude that there must have been a vestibule, which, however, is missing.
Hypogeum at Via Foria
―This was discovered near via Foria 3 during construction for the Napoli-Rome express train line, and has been perhaps the best described of all. The complete description, however, has unfortunately gone missing: “The so-called hypogeum of Epilutus was found at a depth of around 20 meters below the road surface and was excavated completely in the tufa. From a stairway of seven steps and then passing along a small corridor though a door of almost one meter, there was access to a funeral chamber (4.40 m x 3.95 m, with a barrel vault about 5 meters high at the highest point). There were five sarcophagi arrayed along the walls, each somewhat less than 80 centimeters high. The frame that ran along the impost (the top part of the wall) had floral decorations, while below that were some paintings depicting candelabra that held oil lamps. Depicted above the frame were bunches of grapes, pomegranates, pine cones, apples and eggs; depictions over the impost arch included two medallions in concentric circles, red, blue and yellow. Among the objects recovered were decorative vases, a clay lamp, a bronze mirror and an ivory needle. Finally, there were some inscriptions on the walls, confirming a late re-use of the chamber during the age of Augustus; the inscriptions say that the sepulcher belonged to Epilutus, priest to Caesar Augustus and his family. Near this shrine was the so-called hyogeum of Epichares, it, too, dug out of the tufa, only smaller (3 m x 6,5 m with a barrel vault about four meters high. Against the walls were eight sarcophagi, cut out of the tuff and covered by large tiles. No objects were found and the walls bore no traces of insciptions save one graffito in red above one of the walls: 'Epichares', probably the name of the deceased.”
Hypogeum at Via Fuori Porta San Gennaro 10
―Here is another hypogeum that we've lost track of, but there is a detailed description: “The chamber is at San Gennaro 10, 12 meters below the surface and was discovered in 1926 when they were digging the tunnels for the Rome-Naples express train line. It was filled with a layer of very hard mud and only partially explored. It was built of tufa bricks, was rectangular (3,70 x c. 7 m) and covered by a barrel vault (a bit higher than 3 ½ m). There were faint traces of painting on the walls; only one sarcophagus was found, containing two bodies.”
Hypogeum between the Vergini quarter and Porta San Gennaro
―The only thing we have on this is a description: “During the digging of a well for water, between the months of May and July, 1790, two sepulcher chambers were found beneath the building of the Filippi family in the Vergini quarter (Borgo dei Vergini), but it is not yet known exactly where. The king, himself, Ferdinand IV, given the importance of the discovery, set up surveillance at the site and asked some scholars, among whom were N. Ignarra and C. Rosini, to handle the research. The first space was rectangular (8 x 4.50 meters) with a barrel vault some 3.50 meters high. It was dug completely in tufa. The chamber contained 11 sarcophagi, cut directly into the tufa and closed with large tiles. All the walls had Greek inscriptions in red, but scholars paid particular attention to a funeral epigraph in honor of Eufron. There we saw mentioned a theke Eunostideion, that is, a common sepulcher for members of the Eunostidi fratria [extended family, clan], of which Eufron was a member. Next to Eufron's hyogeum was the so-called chamber of Eudromos, smaller and with only seven sarcophagi along the wall. On these walls, as well, there were many inscriptions, among them that of Eudromos, son of Gneo. Among the recovered objects—there is a point by point list done by M. Ruggiero—were a bronze mirror, a small chest, an alabaster vase and 13 terracotta statuettes, for the most part of seated women and figures of Eros.”
Hypogeum at Via San Giovanni a Carbonara
―This, too, has only a description: “In April, 1919, during excavations for a metropolitana tunnel, two sepulcher spaces were found below street level of via San Giovanni a Carbonara. The first, cut directly into the tufa, collapsed due to a landslide shortly after it was discovered. By way of a stairway of seven steps and along a short dromus, you access a rectangular room (6.50 x 6 m) with a dome ceiling about seven meters high. It contained 12 funeral beds, cut into rock. Three female statuettes in terracotta were found lined up with the frame that ran along the impost of the dome; they go back to the end of the 4th century or to the beginning of the 3rd century BC. A second and somewhat smaller hyogeum was found next to the first one. It had a dome and there were four sarcophagi along the walls. Inspection of the tombs allowed for the recovery of 18 balsam vials, an amphora, two jugs, fragments of a mirror, and a bronze pin.”
The catacombs in the area are also worthy of mention: the Catacombs of San Gennaro (see photos 42, 43, 44 and 45), the Catacombs of San Gaudioso, (see photos 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50) and those of San Severo, listed in order of importance. We won't dwell on descriptions, but rather look at their role in the formation and urbanization of the area. The Romans, who had great respect for the dead, allowed even slaves to have tombs. They considered the zone “post murum”, beyond the walls, sacred and free from construction. Here they used not only the old Greek tombs but caves as burial grounds. Examples of Roman tombs have been found in the catacombs of San Gennaro as well as in those of San Gaudioso, where you see the columbaria, clearly of Roman manufacture.
The culture of the “post murum” was completely reversed by Christians. The ritual of incubation (sleeping near the dead), already practiced by the Greeks and Romans, was carried to extremes by Christians: praying, sleeping even closer to the deceased (all the better if it was a saint) allowed you to speak with the dead, commune with them in dreams, get advice, answers, be healed. In a certain sense, even the ritual of incubation might have helped to clear up which was San Gennaro's tomb and which was that of Sant'Agrippino, a dilemma that fooled even those from Benevento, from the same town as San Gennaro, when they got the tombs confused and stole the remains of Sant'Agrippino instead of San Gennaro because it was more in evidence and closer to the entrance. They say that a paralitic, a certain Mauro, right on Sept. 19 [the feast day of San Gennaro], made his way to the tomb of San Gennaro and nodded off; the Saint came to him in a dream and said, (Hey, kid, you come to me on Sept. 19? You know I have a lot to do today. Go down to San Agrippino; he's got nothing to do. Tell him I sent you. You'll see, he'll grant you something.” And so the lad was granted a favor, which was a frescoe showing the miracle and the laying of the two tombs. Aside from the miracle and the legend, the overpopulation of the city and Christian incubation led first to a state of affairs where more and more Christian tombs were cropping up right next to the tombs of the saints and, then, on those spots, which the Romans had wanted to keep free of construction, convents, basilicas and churches started to go up. Thus, those areas, in turn, became sites of the homes of Christians, who urbanized the sacred Valley of the Dead, giving us the quarters of Vergini, Sanità, Miracoli and today the Line of the Two Museums
CAVITIES IN THE AREA
The Line of the Two Museums passes through two quarters, Stella and San Carlo all’Arena, the most densely excavated: 72 cavities have been counted and investigated in the Stella quarter for a total area of 157,920 sq meters; in the quarter of Stella and San Carlo all’Arena, 78 have been counted for an area of 115,680 sq. m. The numbers are only partial because they refer to less than half of the cavities that are believed to exist. It is thus clear that as many cavities remain to be found as have already been found. That is particularly troublesome in that these are the ones that show up only when there are land slides, sink holes, collapses and settling of terrain. Each of the 150 cavities in these two quarters has a history; we shall comment here on only some of them, the most important ones.
The Fontanelle Cemetery
―This has always been a cave but its origin as a cemetery is tied to a scourge that tormented this area for thousands of years: the “Lava (waters) of Vergini.” In ancient times the dead were buried in churches or congregations of which there are hundreds in Naples, especially in the historic center, as we know. These churches and groups, however could simply not continue to meet the demand for new tombs; thus, the grave diggers in the churches resorted to digging up the interred after the funeral and unloading them in the old abandoned caves in the Sanità quarter. On September 19, 1728, following yet another torrential downpour, the “lava” of Vergini caused cave-ins along the roads of the Sanità and completely flooded the Fontanelle caves. After the storm, the waters washed back out of the caves, regurgitating hundreds of cadavers throughout the quarter. Those who had put the bodies in there in the first place were obliged to reassemble them back inside the cave and put up a wall at the entrance to keep this “inconvenience” from happening again and to go out and fill up cave-ins and sink holes with debris and building materials. In 1764, a time “marked by a terrible famine, the Fontanelle Cemetery was set aside by the Committee of Public Health to bury the corpses of the lower classes that could not be handled by public burials at churches within the city.” It wasn't until 1767 that streets leading to the Fontanella were paved. It was Praus, following the Edict of Saint-Cloud of June 1804, who presented a project in 1810 to build a vast cemetery by broadening the ancient necropolis of Fontanelle. In the report attached to the draft, Praus gives a precise description of the spaces in front of the pits and quarries themselves that, in support of his project, he describes as "being so laid out in the quarries, so framed among themselves, so bright, that they seem to be in temples, except that the stone has been removed, for we do not use temples for public burials.” And that was a perfect description—these quarries, unlike all the others that exist in that area, have a number of openings that let light into the spaces, brightening them but still providing a discrete rest for the dead. A cemetery was consecrated, and here were laid to rest the dead from pestilence and from the frequent “purges” of the deceased in church cemeteries, this according to the Edict of Saint-Cloud. Hundreds of thousands of skeletons were put into the three sections of the cave, each with its own “nave name”: the Nave of priests, for members of the clergy (see photos 51, 52 and 53), the Nave of plague victims (see photos 54 and 55) and the Nave of the Impoverished, those who had simply been anonymously dumped in (see photos 56 and 57).
The Caves of the Marina or of violet San Gennaro dei Poveri
―This is not along the route but it is an example of the excavations carried out in the subsoil without preliminary investigations. These are the most extended spaces of their kind, about 45,000 sq meters; today they are used to store impounded motor vehicles. They came to light in the 1970s when construction work on the Naples Tangenziale broke through into the caves. The Tangenziale engineers, unaware of their existence, had already poured hundreds of cubic meters of concrete into the spaces over weeks, and had thus immobilized in concrete over 2000 cars (see 59, 60 and 61). Today it is somewhat of a museum of useless technology. The engineers were precursors of Oriol Bohogas' idea; he had wanted to “convert the caves into a useless and grotesque aquarium, a tragic cemetery of obsolete technology”(see photos 62 and 63).
Vico Miracoli 40, Piazza Miracoli 23 and Boarding School for Girls
―These are among the few spaces that will interfere with the building of the Line of the Two Museums. There are 6000 sq. meters of empty space where the channels of ancient aqueducts converge (see photos 64, 65, 66 and 67), large cisterns and caves suitable for shelters (see photos 68. 69. 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75) and some unusual excavation that will require further study (see photos 76 and 77). Certainly they will be cut by the Piazza dei Miracoli station. That is not nessarily a damage, whether they are walled off or used; other underground spaces such as these in Naples have been equipped to handle tourism; why can't you do the same thing with Piazza Miracoli?
Capodimonte Park The “Grotto of Maria Christina”
―Besides beauty and history there are some places in Naples that are beloved for sentimental reasons. When they remodeled the Bellini Theater before the grand premiere, we all looked up at the box seats and thought how often when we were young we would go to the cinema just to be alone with our young loves. You see a lot in the faces of those lost in old memories. Who has never sought seclusion in the grotto of Seiano at Posillipo, or the Parco della Remembranza, or never gone up to Capodimonte Park to peek into the “Grotto of Maria Cristina”? That is where they quarried the tufa to build the royal palace. The Bourbons loved to fashion their residences along the lines of the Stowe garden in Buckinghamshire about 100 km from London (an accurate description of these gardens, by Thomas Whately, published in Paris, was in the Bourbon royal library and is now held in the National Library.) So, we have the grotto in the Bourbon parks such as Capodimonte and Villa Floridiana. Strange to say, but the Grotto of Maria Christina at the Capodimote park, known to all, has not yet been completely studied. At the entrance the Bourbons installed replicas of Greek and Roman items; the branches of the grotto, large and in good condition from a geological point of view (see photos 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84 e 85), might be used for exhibitions and such.
Parco SAIA at Colli Aminei
―This one seems to have no story behind it. You can count on the fingers of one hand the people who even know about it. You used to be able to access it directly from Vallone San Rocco, but they blocked that access when they started to develop the area and we simply lost track of it. The quarry was rediscovered in the 1970s on the grounds of the Parco SAIA at a point where the ground dipped sharply. Fortunately, someone remembered that the grotto had been part of the foundations of many of the buildings in the parco. They even remembered that hidden away in a corner of the cave there was an “eye” [a cylindrical opening]. They opened it and saw 8600 square meters of emptiness. They ascertained that a tube had been inserted through the “eye” to provide water to the mass of concrete necessary for the foundation. The tube, opened and closed with a valve, had held up for years; then, corrosion, pressure and depth blew it apart and allowed loose terrain to move and caused the surface to cede (see photos 86 and 87). Why are we even concerned with this? Because this is where the The Line of the Two Museums is supposed to pass, and it might run into unknown empty spaces.
A SURVEY OF THE TERRITORY
In the area that the Line of the Two Museums passes through, soil characteristics are such that tufa rock actually crops out at the surface, and there are many quarries accessible right at the surface. Many of these were reused by the “cult of the dead”, among them the Fontanelle cemetery, the above-mentioned catacombs of San Gennaro and San Gaudioso, the Vico Lammatari grottoes and others. In the 1600s a number of religious orders moved into this area, and urbanization began. Rain water cisterns were built beneath each building and, what's more, since both the Claudio and the Carmignano city aqueducts passed in the vicinity, a network of additional channels and tunnels was built in order to get running water from the Serino and Faenza (today Isclero) rivers into each building. All of these empty spaces were used until the end of the last century, yet only a small portion of them have actually been located and counted; they were abandoned when the high-pressure aqueduct went into service in 1885. They wound up being used as dumps for rubble from WWII and all traces of them have now been lost.
The Office for the Defence of the Soil is concerned with safeguarding archeological finds as well as protecting excavations and aqueducts. This last April it began a series of studies in the area, availing itself of the results of recent geological surveys. The first studies aimed to protect items of ancient manufacture; the second were to understand the soil characteristics so they could lay out the proposed tunnel for the Line of Two Museums. These studies involved getting to know the residents of the area in order to find about possible cavities that were as yet unknown. The studies were undertaken at the following streets: via Misericordiella, via Impagliafiaschi, via Fuori Porta San Gennaro, via Vergini, Supportico Lopez, Via Castrucci, vico Barbetta, via Miracoli, vico Croce ai Miracoli, Piazza Miracoli, vico Nunziatella ai Miracoli, vicoletto dei Miracoli, vico Tessitori, vico Tavernola, salita Miradois, the area of the Astronomical Observatory, salita Moiariello, via Sant’Antonio a Capodimonte, salita Capodimonte. Obviously, we were most concerned with those parts of the streets adjacent to the Line of Two Museums. Directly interviewing residents without the filter of a questionnaire was the main way of finding out anything of interest. Interview subjects were selected on the basis of how much they knew about the quarry sites, how often they may have visited them or if they were administratively connected with them.
RESULTS OF THE STUDIES
Via Misericordeilla 26
―The building administrator says that on the premises there is access to a possible cavity, one that has neither been inspected nor even counted. That access is currently blocked by foreign materials. The condo has received the order of auditors concerning the cavity and is preparing to comply with them. The condo has commissioned a professional for a survey and the results should be available in the coming months.
Via Fuori Porta San Gennaro 15
―There is a visible opening of a cistern in the courtyard of this archconfraternity; they know it is a cistern with the same perimeter as that of the courtyard, itself, with a depth of about seven or eight meters. Recently, the cistern has been cleaned of foreign materials and rented out. The entrance is at via Impagliafiaschi 11. In similar fashion, the chapel of the archconfraternity, bordering on via Misericordiella, has a crypt with the same perimeter as the church at a depth of about 6 to 8 meters.
Via Vergini, Venerabile Arciconfraternita del SS Sacramento di Sant’Eligio Maggiore
―This is an imposing chapel, but has been closed for years. At the moment there is no information.
Via Vergini 62
―This condo had a bath that is said to have been made of part of an old well shaft, which, itself, was at a depth of 15-20 meters and drew on one of the ancient aqueducts.
Via Vergini 56
―As you enter the courtyard, you see on the right the mouth of a well that has been sealed. The owner of the property says that there is a trap-door in the pavement that leads to a cavity that has not been counted or inspected. Another gentleman, interviewed elsewhere, says that the cavity under discussion is connected to the one at Supportico Lopez 32 (below).
Supportico Lopez 32
―There is a large and articulated cavity. Many persons say it was the largest air-raid shelter in area. The administrator of the premises says that there have numerous attempts to explore it, but they were abandoned for lack of proper equipment and fear of rats. The access is substantially clear; it leads to a stairway that is apparently very steep.
Supportico Lopez 19
―The building is said to have a large cavity. Residents confirm that. They defer to the building administrator for further clarification. He says that he has received no instructions and, since he is new to the position, he really know the situation.
Via Castrucci 4/B – 5 – Congregation of the Vincentian Fathers
―The main entrance to the building complex of the Vincentian Fathers is from via Vergini. It has been abundantly described in the publication of Prof. G. Fiengo and Prof. Strazullo: I preti della missione e la casa napoletana dei Vergini [ “The Priests of the Mission and the Neapolitan Residence in Vergini”]. Father Guerra says that the publication is very detailed regarding the condition of the subsoil since it was written by engineers from the Office for the Subsoil; thus, further comments serve no purpose.
Via Miracoli 45
―There are two well shafts; neither has been counted or inspected. Both go down about 10 or 15 meters. From internal temperature of the shafts and wind currents, the impression is that there is large cavity at the bottom.
Via Croce ai Miracoli 1
―There is a basement used as a shelter in the last war. The rumor is that it is connected to the cavity of the “educundati”[Boarding school].
Via Croce ai Miracoli 28
―A trap-door on the landing of the staircase is said to lead to a cellar floor where there may be well shafts.
Vico Pacella ai Miracoli 19 - Vico Pacella ai Miracoli 25
―From these two large buildings there is a supposed access to a large air-raid shelter. Many of the interviewees indicate as much. The entrances, however, are blocked and impassible. From #19 the blocked entrance is in the space below the staircase. From #25, the blocked passage is at the space below the staircase of the entrance in the courtyard, on the left as you enter.
Vico Pacella ai Miracoli 39
―There is a cavity and an entrance.
Salita Miradois between #'s 9 and 9\A
―Between these two addresses there is an entrance, bit it is walled up. There are ventilation holes, however. Many residents say that this was the entrance to a large air-raid shelter.
Salita Miradois 11
―This building was the access to an extensive shelter. The entrance from the space below staircase has been walled shut. One resident says there were other entrances, from via San Marco a Miradois 24 and from Salita Miradois 9\A.
Salita Miradois 25\28
―This building, goes back to the first part of the 1700s and is under the tutelage of the Ministry of Environmental Assets (beni ambientali). The rear part of the building rests directly on the tufa ledge that the Salita della Riccia runs along. Those interviewed say that there are no cisterns or cavities of any sort at that point. We take care to report that because it is unthinkable that in a building this old and this important there is not even a rain catchment cistern.
Area of the Astronomical Observatory
―The area of the astronomical observatory presents two large cavities that are known and have been counted. It would not be worth mentioning if we hadn't seen the photos taken during the investigation of the site done in the 1970s. From those photos we see that various passageways are blocked. No further investigation at the sites seems to have been undertaken since then.
Salita Miradois 41
―This is certainly one of the oldest buildings in the area. There is a stone (piperno) coat of arms at the entrance from the 1500s: it shows an angel with a scroll flying on a plumed helmet that rests on an oval shield. The shield is divided by a horizontal stripe into two sections; the top part contains two stars, the bottom part has one star. It must be the coat of arms of Giulio Miradois, magistrate of the city of Naples. One resident says that the building has been noted as the home of count Miradois. The building is at the corner of vico Miradois, where an entrance has been walled up. This is the entrance that is said to lead to a cavity.
Vico Miradois 4
―Two separate interviewees say that there is an underground passageway from this property to the Torre Palasciana at Salita Moiariello.
Salita Miradois 46
―There is a cavity currently being rented out as a storage space. It is said to have a number of blocked passages.
Salita Miradois 48
―A cavity exists, presumably with the same perimeter as the building. Possibly a cistern.
Salita Miradois 39
―Sant’Antonio Institute, Franciscan Order of St. Anthony. Ancient cloister. The Franciscans took it over it in 1938. Other than the crypt from the 1700s, there are said to be no other underground spaces. Yet it is hard to imagine that this structure had no cistern.
Salita Moiariello 42\45\39
―There is an important space beneath these two buildings. The access in the space beneath the staircase has been blocked. In the basement at number 42 there is an unobstructed well. From the bottom you see that from the garden behind number 45, a noteworthy amount of rubble has been dumped down the well shaft at the stairs of the shelter, blocking the access that had permitted the space to be enumerated and studied.
Salita Moiariello 29
―There is a basement. A resident says that a space where there had been a well shaft has recently been paved to be used as a bath. From the small window in the bath you can see the basement. On the whole, it seems to have potential for development.
We started from Piazza Cavour and arrived at Salita Moiariello along a sequential route sticking as closely as possible to the “Line of the Two Museums”. It is clear to us that the further one is removed in time from the period when the subsoil was actually used, the more it disappears from our consciousness. By the same token, the actual physical indicators (accesses, entrance galleries, well openings and shafts, etc.) disappear at the same rate. In these investigations, something else was difficult to comprehend and that is how very old and complicated buildings, at least from what today's residents say, could have had no cisterns. This preliminary investigation carried out by the Center for Southern Speleology by Michele Buonaiuto, Sirio Salvi, Anna Virgili and by the president, engineer Clemente Esposito, and consigned by them to the Office for the Defence of the Soil.
For the Centro Speleologico Meridionale
Engineer Clemente Esposito
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