Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wednesday in Italy, continued

Although we had seen and been amazed by the ossuary, Amanda was still determined to find the catacombs.  We consulted the browser on her phone, and the GPS (which didn't seem to agree with each other) and I crawled out from under the backseat where I had been hiding as she drove through the town and saw a banner that said "Underground Naples" (or something like that--it was in Italian for some reason).  We found a parking garage (not quite like we have in the states but it would do) and walked over.

It was the San Lorenzo Maggiore church/convent, and underground were the ruins of a Roman marketplace.  Narrow roads (some things never change) and a variety of storefronts.

The bakers, with a domed oven not unlike you still find in the pizza shops

The sign for the dye works.  I was amused to find it translated into English as "Dry Cleaners."  All the modern conveniences!

And the dye works themselves

A random room, showing some of the stucco which would have once covered the walls.
We love roaming around ruins, and would have been more impressed if we hadn't still been reeling from the ossuary, but it was cool and pleasant down here under the city.
Amanda was *still* determined to find the catacombs.  Bob asked one of the guides where they might be, and he gave us directions to a church--where there were no catacombs.  So then Bob saw a postal delivery woman, and asked her, and got directions to another place that was a museum, but not with catacombs.  We stopped into a café where Amanda had fruit and Bob and I indulged in our first Italian pastry.  Crisp puff pastry with chocolate filling.  I'd like to say that we sipped an espresso alongside, but it was so hot that we opted for water with lemon instead.
Amanda's phone was started to run low by now, so she called Robert to do a search on the computer for the catacombs and text the address to her.  I then took a picture of the text so we would have the address to put into the GPS when we got back to the car.  Technology!
We walked back to the parking "garage" where the valet jiggled her car out (hers is the white one) and went off in search of San Gennaro.

We went around a loop a couple of times and finally realized that we had driven right past it on the way into town that morning.  That's OK--if we hadn't gotten lost, we wouldn't have found the ossuary at Fontanelle.
And finally we were going to a catacomb--down ramps and steps that led through apartment buildings (Naples is very much built on the historic sites) we went into the cool underground.  Gennaro is famous for the longevity of its use,with frescoes spanning from the 2nd to the 10th century, showing the changes in Christian art.  They are extensive (possibly because it is very easy to carve into the tuffa) and cover about 5 square kilometers (about 2 square miles)

Despite the fact that we were in the catacombs, and you could see the open tombs, there were no remains.  Sometime around the 18th century they were removed--some to go to churches, but most went to . . . Fontanelle!

Amanda said she would have preferred to have the story in chronological order, but I was rather happy that we had found the ossuary first (and been caught off-guard by it) and then learned the story about where some of them had begun their afterlife.

Even after visiting the other two sites, it was the ossuary at Fontanelle that continued to haunt us.  That evening, Bob looked down at his crocs and said "I think I have dead people dust on my shoes."

If I recall correctly, this is the evening that I spent socializing with the family by sleeping on the couch for two hours.  Amanda took a picture but was kind enough not to post it. 

Thursday--Cemetary and trash-picking.  Stay tuned!

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