Following WWII a building boom raced across the verdant hills above Naples like wildfire. Speculators with lots of money ran roughshod over a city government besieged with restructuring and organizing City regulatory and permitting offices following heavy bombing and other trials of WWII. Multi-story apartment buildings on long spindly concrete pilings of uncertain strength began to rise above the bucolic valleys and hillsides that ring the lower old city center. Something had to be done to get control of potentially sub-standard unapproved construction. In 1967 an extraordinary task force was formed to pull together experts in all fields of surveying, topography, earth core sampling of the subsoil, and an unprecedented attempt to locate and identify the undulating topsoil depths and location and tops of the solid tuff sandstone strata which run beneath the geothermal regions beneath Naples and surrounding area. The data gathered would be used to formulate recommendations for zoning, construction, and permitting in many areas to bring order and legal control to any future building.
This was no mean task, and to further complicate matters, the tuff sandstone strata are honeycombed with hundreds and hundreds of gigantic manmade cavities where the durable sandstone had been quarried and brought to the surface to build palaces, villas and other buildings over the centuries. Additionally other voids included railroad tunnels, ancient Greek and Roman aqueducts and water reservoirs, long tunnels from the city's pneumatic mail and message network from the early 1900's, as well as elaborate network of ancient as well as operating sewer lines, gas lines and other similar cavities.
The 1967 "Sottosuolo di Napoli" or Subsoil of Naples was published in a limited edition by the Commission that had guided the extraordinary project. It contains photos of the time as well as numerous charts, maps, diagrams, engineering studies and a census table of all the known cavities up to that time . . . many of which were used as air raid shelters in WWII.
With the permission of The City of Naples and a specific approval signed by the Mayor, Fulvio Salvi, founder of Napoli Underground was given permission to optically scan and digitally reproduce the entire 500 page work in its initial Italian form. And he did so … one page at a time, making this truly fascinating and informative work available to the world in well-done PDF form on the NapoliUnderground.org
NUg associate and friend, Jeff Matthews
, a long time Naples resident, university professor, translator and all round good guy came forward with an offer to translate the book into an English language version. Matthews invited fellow American and NUg friend and translator, Larry Ray, to join in. Over the coming months we hope to complete the translating and pagination as translation and formatting into PDF format progresses.
A substantial percentage, about one third of "The Subsoil of Naples" has been translated and is now online for you to bookmark and to check back with frequently as translation progresses. Even non-geologists or speleologists will find this post WWII narrative of Naples full of history and fascinating vignettes; there are many photos, maps and diagrams as well: