Naples, city of art and passion, holy and profane. Partenope, occult, fantastic, secret. Full of streets and palaces that ooze history, hiding extraordinary truths revealed only to the initiates.
In Naples everything seems to be esoteric. The legend starts with its very foundation: the death of the siren Partenope, who let herself die after being refused by Ulysses. Or was she a beautiful virgin running away from Greece because her father did not approve her lover Cimone? Anyway, her arrive on Megaride island decrees the birth of this city. And on that same point, where today stands Castel dell’Ovo, Neapolitans have venerated her mysterious tomb, together with San Gennaro and Virgil the Wizard.
Underground Naples is a city beneath the city, excavated and used for different purposes during the centuries, from extraction of tufa to aqueduct, to anti-bomb refuge during WWII. From the underground came out munacielli, and it also keeps another secret. In via Cattaneo there is the hamlet of Due porte all’Arenella; beneath, there is a series of tunnels where, during the 16th century there was the palace of the alchemist Giovan Battista della Porta, founder of the Academy of Secrets, an esoteric circle reserved to scholars of natural science.
Castel dell’Ovo was built on Megaride island, on the remains of a Roman villa turned first into a prison and then into a cloister, before becoming part of the Law court under the Normans and, lastly, a castle, under the Anjou and Aragonese domination. Its name comes from an ancient tradition: it is said that the poet Virgil, wizard and protector of the city during Medieval times, put into the basement a magical egg hidden into an amphora closed (part two will follow).