Forget Halloween. Forget the ancient pagan festival of Celtic origin dedicated to “all the dead” who return to earth, widespread in the United States by Irish immigrants and then landed in Italy, in its most banal and commercial aspect. Give up, for a moment, the costume parade, pumpkins and colourful games for children, who run from house to house, shouting ‘trick or treat’. I do not belong there. That is not the result of our history. So, enjoy the dear old ‘feast of the dead’, which falls on November 2. Brought forth as a Christian tradition, it later became a cult of the Bourbons in Naples, with the nougat of deaths and visits to the grave of the deceased.
So, what better way to honour the anniversary with an excursion to the famous ‘Valley of the Dead’? An unusual journey through the alleys and streets of the Sanità district of Naples. In “Cemiteru of the Fontanelle”, better known in town as the graveyard of the “death’shead”, or “pezzentelle souls”.[charme-gallery]
A pit dug in the heart of the tuff stone, in which the remains of thousands and thousands of people lay, victims of the plague that scourged Naples in 1656, but also of the cholera epidemic in 1836. Walking through bones and skeletons, in a surprising reality in which the sacred and the profane, magic and religion are intertwined and confused from time to time, you can discover the special relationship that has always been linked to the concept of Parthenope ‘beyond’.
This is also the place to get acquainted with famous people, from Capitano to Donna Concetta, from Don Pasquale to the newlyweds, just to mention some of the ‘dead’, which here rest in the sleep of the just and now give life to stories and folktales that with lightness and a hint of bitter irony always describe the soul and character of a people able to transform even the most dramatic events in opportunities for redemption and spirituality. (translated by Mauro Di Fenza)
The “Cemitery of the Fontanelle”
Via Fontanelle, Naples 80
Monday to Sunday: Hours 10 am -5 pm