Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thursday in Naples:Necropolis

We got off to a late start on Thursday.  Dane headed out to the coast with the dive group, and we sat around and chatted.  Part of me was antsy, ready to go see something, but after two long hot days it was also nice to take a break, talk family stuff, and knit (remember the knitting?)

We eventually got ourselves off the couch (and away from the air conditioning  :-(  ) and went to a cemetery, the Cimitero de Santa Maria del Pianto.

This is a more recent cemetery--according to Wikipedia, it's been in active use since 1865.  Also according to Wikipedia, it covers about 7 acres--but it seemed like more. 

When we first drove in, it seemed organized enough--the roads were fairly wide and lined with the mausoleums.  But this first impression was quickly erased--as soon as you walk past that first neat row, all the tombs and mausoleums are just crammed together higgledy-piggledy.  Cheek by jowl.  Just wherever there was space to put another one, without worrying about rows and definitely not about any similarity in style.

We first walked through the "low rent" district, where many graves were set into a tuffa wall.

As you can see, many of the formerly sealed fronts had cracks (or had completely fallen away), with plants taking advantage of the rich volcanic (and, uh, "organic") soil.

 One gentleman has even been transformed into a tree.  It's a pleasant thought.  The air was sweet with wild mint.

I was at first confused by what seemed to be a series of low greenhouses.  Closer inspection showed that they were covering underground mausoleums.

Apparently there are stairs through some of the other tombs to go visit below as these had obviously been carefully tended.

I'm used to modern American cemeteries--neatly laid out rows, small nuclear families--perhaps parents and children together, but not much more.  Here, generations of families lie together.  When you peer between the bars of the tombs, you can look down the stairs to the underground older graves.

And it's still in the middle of the city.

And yet, in the middle of a weekday, oddly deserted.  The three of us were the only living beings in this necropolis.  But on the graves were fresh (if artificial) flowers.  All was slightly overgrown, but not to ruin.   This is still a cemetery in use, with signs that loved ones are still interred here.

(I love the ubiquitous plastic chairs and the jugs and other detritus.  This is not a museum, but a place for families) 

Moving into the "higher rent" district, the tombs become larger and more imposing.

Those stone figures are life-sized.

Bob is slightly larger than life-sized, but good for scale.  Those large modern-looking buildings to the right are also mausoleums.

One tries to grasp that this is not a preserved historical site.  It seems so old--but by European standards it isn't.  Despite the gentleman's ruff, this necropolis is only 150 years old (although plague victims from the 1600's are sealed in a cave below parts of it)
But it's time for us to leave the hush of the city of the dead and go back to the crazy city of the living.  Bob has a hobby shop to find.

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