13 November 2014
 Naples, Italy: Beneath the Mountain

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises 

We are back in Naples,  our last visit of the season to Campania. Silver Cloud is heading now for Sicily,  Malta,  Tunisia,  the south coas of Spain and on to Madeira before crossing the pond to the Caribbean and South America for the winter.

Many guests headed off to Pompeii or the on enchanting isle of Capri.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that,  but we’ve done that and more many many times.

See some recent blog posts: 11 November 2014 and 4-5 October 2014 for photos and stories.

Instead,  on today’s visit we choose to go underground: to two of the ancient catacombs below Naples.

Up on the hill of Capodimonte above Naples are the Catacombs of San Gennaro and nearby in the working class district of Sanita are the Catacomb of San Gaudioso.

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Photos by Corey Sandler 

Unlike the Catacombs of Rome,  these underground cities were not built as refuges for really Christians hiding from persecution.  Instead, here in Naples,  the catacombs are remnants of ancient burial cults.

Some date back several hundred years before the Christian era. The two we visited include some ancient chambers as well as Roman and Christian tombs.

The catacombs on Capodimonte have only been reopened to the public since 2009; they were cleaned and lit by a cooperative established by local students and parishioners. This year they expect to receive about 50,000 visitors. Today, there were eight of us–and the former tombs of perhaps three thousand former residents.

At San Gaudioso,  the 3rd century Christiana had elaborate routes that including doing of bodies,  separation of the head from the test of the body and the veneration and display of the skulls on a special chamber.

I almost joined the display myself: I clanged my head on a low hanging beam. I left the catacombs with an indelible memory and a temporary lump on my forehead.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler.  All rights reserved.  If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me. 

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