Some people come to Naples and fall in love with the city. Most people don't. I didn't. It has some nice churches and an excellent National Archaeological Museum, but the rest of the city didn't impress me. It wasn't a bad place, aside from the prostitutes and trash in the streets, but the charm escaped me. This is a typical charming street.

I'll confess I am unimpressed with Naples in part because I was stymied in all attempts at finding anything that qualified as nightlife. Every place that sold food also sold alcohol, but nothing resembled the bar and pub scene I'd found in every other country. I was bummed!

In absence of nightlife, I focused on respectable historic stuff, which is easy to do in Naples. As one would expect, the archaeological museum has excellent artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and some excellent works from other parts of Italy. Most impressive is the Farnese Bull, estimated to be from the second century B.C. It depicts Dirce being tied to a wild bull for mistreating the wife of the King of Thebes. A rather unusual and severe punishment; I can't imagine the ride being pleasant. I don't know the myth, but it is an outstanding sculpture.

The museum also has some fine mosaics from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The other statues and knick-knacks in the museum are presented in the discreet page. If a statue of Pan fornicating with a goat is the sort of thing that upsets you, you probably don't want to go there.

The most significant church in Naples is the Duomo.

Naples has one other extraordinary church, now a museum, the Chapel of Sansevero Museum. The outside was unimpressive, and no pictures were allowed inside. It was there that I saw sculptures that proved that the Italian Renaissance sculptors had definitely surpassed the finest of ancient Greece. Oh well, the Greeks had their run; they set a standard for art that was unmatched for about two thousand years. Most famous of the sculptures in the Sansevero is Giuseppe Sanmartino's 1753 "Veiled Christ". It is incredibly realistic--even though it is solid marble it looks like a light veil draped over a sleeping man. It has other amazing works, including Francesco Queirolo's "The Disinchantment", with a tangled net draped over a man, all carved out of marble. Morbidly fascinating are the eighteenth century skeletons of a man and a woman with their solidified circulatory systems, all the veins and arteries, in place around them. Nobody knows how this was done, and there is some doubt if these are actual human circulatory systems, though the blood vessels are represented with a precision beyond the knowledge of the time.

Ok, Naples had its moments but wasn't that impressive. Pompeii and Herculaneum were much better.


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