Friday, July 26, 2013

Napoli Take 3: Don't Skip The Art And Archeology

There is one other point I want to share about Napoli.  Amidst the noise and congestion and grime, there are also some real high points of art and architecture.  You should try to see them if you visit.  Some of these places do not allow pictures, so I can't share any visuals with you.  For some, I have pics.

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is one of the world's leading collections of Greek and Roman artifacts.  These types of archeology museums often don't do much for me.  The archeology museum in Istanbul, for instance, is also considered one of the world's finest collections -- but I thought it was a snoozer.  It could just be that I'm more into Greek/Roman statues and relics, etc. than I am their Ottoman counterparts.  But I thought the exhibits I saw here (and many rooms were closed -- which I understand is a common phenomenon) were super cool.

The famous Toro Farnese (Farnese Bull)
The Farnese Atlante -- a statue of Atlas holding a globe
Ercole (Hercules)

The Museo di Capodimonte is also worth a visit.  It's on the grounds of a huge park/palace that is an oasis of green in the dense crowded city.  The art collection is huge and includes at least a couple of show-stoppers, including an impressive Caravaggio.

Massaccio's Crocifissione (Crucifixion)
Caravaggio's Flagellazione (Flagellation): this is the single piece that many people visit the museum to see.  It is set off at the end of a long hallway, such that you can see it in the distance as you approach.  The anticipation builds and you ignore all the other art around you that you pass as you get closer.  Nobody else was around when I got to the Flagellazione.  

Whatever you do, do not miss the Cappella Sansevero.  This is a very small church that is filled with wonderful sculptures.  The centerpiece of it all -- literally and figuratively -- is the Cristo Velato (Veiled Christ), a jaw-dropping depiction of Jesus covered by an incredibly realistic veil.  Downstairs, there are also a couple of spooky human bodies stripped of their skin, but with all their blood vessels preserved and intact.  I need to read up more on these bodies and on the man who created/preserved them, Raimondo di Sangro.  The church does not allow pictures.  Sorry.

Likewise, no pictures are allowed in the Pio Monte della Misericordia.  This small church houses another beautiful Caravaggio masterpiece.  When I visited, there was only one other person in the church.  You could just sit down and stare at Le setts opere di Misericordia (The Seven Acts of Mercy) for as long as you like.

Napoli is also sprinkled with churches and statues that are too numerous to mention, but that are cool to look at.  Keep your eyes open as you wander around.  The Duomo, in particular, is impressive.

I have no idea what this is all about, but I have never seen Moses and tablets with Hebrew writing on them over the entryway into a Catholic church.  I'm assuming it's Moses, BTW.  I believe that's what the rays of light emanating from his head indicate.  The tablets, I suppose, could be the 10 Commandments.  Anyone out there able to make out the Hebrew?     
Inside the Duomo

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