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NAPLES ANCIENT BUILDINGS

Published January 13, 2014 by Tony

– MYSTERY AND DECAY OF PALACE PENNE –

Penne's palace

Palazzo Penne is a Renaissance building in Naples, built by Antonio Penne, located in the Piazzetta Teodoro Monticelli, in that narrow blind alley that leads to the long and narrow “Scalea del Pennino” in the Sedile “Porto”.
Antonio Penne, so named because coming from the town of Penne in Abruzzo, belonged to a wealthy bourgeois family, and in 1391 he became secretary and special adviser to the king Ladislaus of Anjou (Naples 1374-1414), son of Margherita of Durres, nephew of the Queen Joanna I. His prestige at court became so high till to obtain permission to erect his own memorial in Santa Clara’s church, exclusive place for Angevin nobility, where today, in a chapel we can still admire his tomb.
Once this property was famous for a legend that hovered over, while in the last centuries a total negligence led it to ruin.

Penne's tomb

HISTORY

Palazzo Penne was built in 1406 and the area where it is located is called “Pennino” (meaning slope), because it was a small hill where the road surface was about 5 meters lower than now, a place that at the time was considered healthy, and safe against flooding landslides.
The year of manufacture can be inferred from the inscription on a plaque above the arch at the entrance of the building: “XX anno regni regis Ladislai sunt domus haec facte nullo sint turbine fracie mille fluunt magni bistres centum quater anni.” The inscription arranges a single block with the Anjou-Durres’ coat of arms. The concession of the sovereign to embellish the building with weapons and symbols of the royal family, as well as the approval of Penne’s blazon, signified the eternal protection to the family Penne.

The facade  is made with ashlar rusticated “piperno” alternated with “soft stone of the mountain”, referred to as “piperino tuff”, which is actually trachyte: a compact yellowish rock. The pediment is formed by arches called “flaming Gothic” with the crown of King Ladislaus in the first order, and below the Cross of Jerusalem, Majorca’s coat of arms (poles), and the stripes of Durres’ lineage. In the ashlar frame you see the “feathers”, symbol of the house in three rows, topped by Angevin lilies in seven rows, in honor of King Ladidslao. In the middle of the arch, a composition represents the religious and superstitious spirit of Antonio Penne: the stylized clouds from which come out some beams (the divine light) with two hands holding a tape containing two engraved lines of Martial (against evil eye) “Avi Ducis Vultu Sinec Auspicis Isca Libenter Omnibus Invideas Tibi Nemo” (you, who do not turn your face and do not look at this building willingly or envious, envy everyone well, no one envies you). The door is oak, although altered over the centuries, is one example of craftsmanship with steel spikes, iron studs called “Peroni”, consisting of the original arches of the Gothic period.
The inner courtyard is decorated with a beautiful five-arched portico with a lovely garden still partly preserved. Originally, in the courtyard there were sixteen stables, while the beautiful porch was adorned with statues of the Roman period, all remodeled in 1740 and then covered up by the construction of the janitor’s home, as well as the “Majestic Arch” which remains only a track in the wall. In the apartment on the first floor there were two rooms, one looking out on the porch and another on a courtyard that led into the park, all with frescoed ceiling. In the courtyard there was a spiral staircase that led to the basement that were below the level of the building. A scale of piperno led to the second floor, where there was a large terrace with a balustrade still made with piperno.

After Antonio Penne’s death, the building passed to his nephew Onofrio, as long as the last heirs sold it to the family Rocco or Rocca, and finally in 1558, to Aloisia Scannapieco Capuano who in turn gave it to her son Giovanni Geronimo, married with Lucretia de Sangro.
In 1685 the house was purchased by the Order of the Somascan Fathers, the nearby church of Saints Demetrius and Bonifacio. The fathers Somascan modified it according to their needs and transforming it in novitiaten and cells for the Fathers. The transformations occupied nearly a century, new houses were built in the garden area, while part of the cellars, adjacent to the Church of Santa Barbara, were transformed into shops and other flats. The final annihilation of the ancient structure happened with the destruction of the top floor’s roof. With the arrival of the French, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and with the abolition of religious orders in 1806, the building was put up for sale and became the property of the abbot Teodoro Monticelli, noble barons of Cerreto, a volcanologist.
After his death in 1845, the assets were sold to the University of Naples, while the watchman Saverio Monticelli remained, the grandson of Theodore. In memory of Monticelli was a plaque on the first floor of the building, commissioned by the Civic Administration in 1909. In 2002, the Region of Campania bought the building for 10 billion lire, held by a private possession who had transformed the building into a “bed and breakfast” . The palace was then transferred on loan to “University Orientale” in 2004. The project involved the construction of laboratories, rooms for seminars or conferences, and services for students. Work on the renovation of the building that never initiated by the presence of squatters in the building. In 2007, the intellectuals Alda Croce e Marta Herling, daughter and granddaughter of the philosopher Benedetto Croce, obtained the suspension of the squatters works inside the building for the construction of some housing units by the occupants (who resumed work despite the ban). To no avail the appeals of the President of the Republic and UNESCO for the start of restoration work. On 20 May 2008 the investigations requested by UNESCO through the Italian judiciary, were concluded, and among the defendants the governor Antonio Bassolino and the then dean Pasquale Ciriello, for the non-restorative intervention against an artifact of historical and artistic interest. In November 2009, the Prosecutor has requested the dismissal of the process, giving the opportunity to the Public Prosecutor to appeal to the prosecution, if the case. In 2013, all the defendants in the trial, for damage to property of historical interest, were acquitted by the Tribunal of Naples because the crime does not exist. The agreement between the Region and the last two individuals, illegally occupying the building and to which it has been procured an alternative residence, has allowed to finally put the entire building under the supervision of the Region and the University Orientale, which must agree to the restorative intervention and the intended use. In November 2008, work  for the safety of the building has begun, to prevent further deterioration, as a new abusive attack, nipped in the bud by the Superintendent and the City of Naples, took place in the early months of 2009 when an adjoining hotel was taking possession of the garden.
For now, the only certainty is the decay and neglect that still prevail in the building.

THE LEGEND
”Beelzebub’s building”

As soon as the noble Antonio Penne come to Naples with the French entourage, he fell in love with a beautiful Neapolitan young girl.
Having too many offers of marriage and the next day to give an answer to other suitors, the damsel replied that she maybe would agree only if the Penne had built, for the next morning, a building equal to her beauty, as a pledge of love and wedding gift. Sure that he had not been able to fulfill such an absurd request because, alas, she already had chosen the man to marry.
Aware that he could not cope with such an impossible request, it is said that to just to have a change, the nobleman asked for help to the devil, Beelzebub, who accepted in exchange for Penne’s soul. Antonio accepted by signing with his own blood, but reserving the right to insert an irrelevant clause that he would reveal in the end.

At midnight the evil forces began their work, and at dawn and the building was ready. At this point Beelzebub asked him about the last clause and Antonio explained it: he would have sprinkled many grains of wheat in the courtyard, and the devil would have to pick up and count them all, and if he had missed even one of them, the agreement was no longer valid. Said than done, when the devil counted the grains their number wasn’t exact, because Antonio  deliberately had mixed them with pitch, and inevitably some of them stuck under Beelzebub’s nails. This one protested demanding for his soul, but Antonio made the sign of the cross obliging the devil to sink in the courtyard, where today it is said that there is a well.

 

SEDILI IN NAPLES

Published January 11, 2014 by Tony

Old Administrative Institutions in Naples

In Naples, the “Sedili” (Seats), also called Seggi o Piazze (Squares), were in force from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, and they were administrative institutions of the city, whose representatives, known as Eletti (Elects), met in the convent of San Lorenzo to take decisions about the civil administration for the common good of the City. The first six seats were attended only by the nobility, while the citizens had their own representatives in the seventh Seat.
The Sedili became extinct in 1800 due to an edict of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, who abolished their functions. In 1808, after Joachim Murat’s reforms, the functions and responsibilities of the seats were assigned to the new Municipality institution (City Hall), with the election of the first mayor. Despite the abolition of these local administrative units, the names of some of them, still indicate the area (neighborhood) where these old Sedili were.

NAME

HISTORY

VENUE

Coat of Arms

Capuana

(Capoana)

The name derived from the surname of an influential family.

Via Tribunali

Capoana

Montagna

So named cause it was situated in a high part of the city.

Via Tribunali

Montagna

Forcella

In neapolitan this name refers to the shape Y, a symbol that was the emblem of the nearby school of Pythagoras. The motto of this Seat was: “For good agendum sumus,” (we were born to do good). This seat was merged with Montagna’s seat.

Via Forcella

forcella

Nilo

So named for the presence of the statue of the Nile River and in memory of traders Alessandrini, who dwelt therein.

Piazzetta Nilo

nilo

Porto

So called because it was near the ancient port of Naples.

Via Mezzocannone

Porto

Portanova

So named because, during the Greek time, the city’s walls were enlarged and a new entrance was built near the sea.

Piazza Portanova

Porta_Nova

Popolo

So named because it represented not-aristocratic people of the city. Representatives could only report people’s complaints and actively participate in street festivals or religious processions. They were chosen among the middle class (doctors, writers, lawyers, notaries, merchants, etc.)

Largo della Selleria (current Piazza Nicola Amore)

popolo

.

HOLIDAY SEASON

Published December 24, 2013 by Tony

* CHRISTMAS IN NAPLES *

There is no city in the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas with some Christmas decorations. Some European capitals or major cities like New York are a glitter of colors in this period. Without a doubt the richest cities where the Christmas spirit is more felt and experienced. Although Naples has never had this record and has never been a city richly decorated, this year I see some more light around the squares.

 

galleria Umberto   piazza borsa   piazza dei martiri

piazza trieste e trento   piazza triete e trento   corso umberto

via chiaia   via filangieri   via merliani

piazza dei martiri

condominiums spaces

Published August 15, 2013 by Tony

Let children play alone

The City of Milan has proposed an amendment to the regulation of the municipal police, which would allow use of the spaces inside the condominiums to residents, for letting children play or other purposes, in compliance with the provided time slots.
A good news indeed, if we consider that, especially in the North, the condos are closed and “sad” spaces, sometimes very big that do not have a real utility. Therefore, it is nice to know that these collective microworlds can find their own arrangement, like to be used by children to play or dwellers to organize  little parties, without having to rent a special “site” to do it.

Today, many parents are forced to accompany their children in small playgrounds or prohibit the young teenagers to go out alone. They look like prisoners who are brought out in small confined areas and watched over.
Years ago, everything was simpler and no big concerns, our kids could play in the yard or even in the street. Fortunately, in the South this “custom” still remains in many countries. I have already had the opportunity to talk about this subject in some previous posts, and I am of the opinion that, at least for kids, this is the best way to socialize and make friends…. oh gosh yea! a lot better than Facebook!

NAPOLI FOOTBALL TEAM

Published May 21, 2012 by Tony

Napoli Wins Italian Cup

Napoli team

Today “Il corriere dello sport“, the most important Italian sports newspaper, devoted its front page to the final championship of the “Italian Cup“, writing in large letters:

Great..

Great…

Great Napoli!


Naples
beat Serie A champion Juventus 2-0 yesterday night, inflicting the Bianconeri’s first defeat of the last months. It seemed impossible to beat Juventus this season also if all the Naples’ squad has done something extraordinary these past three years. Anyway, Edinson Cavani broke the deadlock with a penalty and then Marek Hamsik sealed the result with the second goal seven minutes from the end. Everyone talks about Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik, an exceptional group that Naples’s fans call “the three tenors”. Also if it’s almost certain to have been the last game for Lavezzi in the Napoli football team (perhaps will be the Paris Saint Germain to buy The tree tenorshim), and for this he probably has cried at the end of the game, near the cup. At the end of the game, at night, hundreds of thousands of people have took the street to celebrate the event, a flood of euphoric young people  went on a binge until dawn. Just arrived from Rome, the “blue football team” has risen on a open sightseeing bus and toured the city to greet the warm Neapolitans. The bus moved through the delirious crowd, while the players aboard showed excited the cup. They were 25 years that Napoli football team didn’t win this trophy, since the superstar Maradona time. The whole city has enjoyed because too many years that the team had not won a trophy; a team that for unknown reasons is always mistreated by other teams and sports critics (sometimes small teams from the South bother, evidently!), although in recent years it has proven to be a great team, as it even had defeated Chelsea in the knockout stage of the Champions League, which is now the European champion. Therefore, beyond the cup, there is the satisfaction and the revenge of an entire city and of many fans who, for better or for worse, they always follow their favorite team.

I rejoiced with them and now can only repeat GREAT NAPOLI!