Naples, Italy: a visit to Rione Sanità – skulls, scars, Totò and a grand palazzo

I visited Sanità in Naples, Italy last summer. Our guide was young and local, and the morning she gave us felt personal … as though, thanks to her, the city had allowed us a little closer to its secrets. It was an excellent tour.

The Phraser

Mural in rione Sanità in Naples, Italy Mural in rione Sanità in Naples, Italy – the district (rione) was known as Sanità originally because of the health benefits of living there.

The possibility of progress brings pride and hope, but it takes courage to guard the flame.

No-one needs to tell this to Sanità.  The district, ridden over by a road and tucked out of sight at the back of the city centre in Naples, is building a future for its children one day at a time. One bright gleam of opportunity shines around Sanità’s collection of treasures.

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San Gennaro and the saints process through Naples, Italy

My Africa interlude is finished for now. This piece was written in May 2016, a few days after I’d followed the annual procession of saints through the old streets of Naples, Italy. It was an unforgettable day.

The Phraser

San Gennaro under escort through Naples, Italy San Gennaro, his blood, and the saints process under escort through Naples, Italy

In Naples the less usual is everywhere.

A few weeks ago it was San Gennaro, his blood, and a selection of saints, who added the extraordinary as they were carried shoulder high in procession through the city’s streets from the cathedral to the church of Santa Chiara.

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A parade of horse-drawn carriages through Naples, Italy

I took the photographs for this (it’s mainly photographs and two short video clips at the end) in Naples, Italy in May of last year. The horses were handsome and the weather fair … it was a lovely morning

The Phraser

The parade of carriages leaves Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, Italy, beneath the watchful Castel Sant'Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino The parade of carriages leaves Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, Italy, beneath the watchful Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino

This post is to remember in photographs a parade of carriages and their teams on a morning when the weather played fair.

The setting was Napoli, and it was the Sunday of the last weekend in May 2016.  The occasion was to commemorate a day in 1734, also in the month of May, when 18-year-old Carlo di Borbone rode into the city of Naples on the brink of becoming its king.

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Naples, Italy: the Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri

This is a look back at a post written at the end of May, 2016. It’s about a small museum in Naples, Italy whose founder sought to save the skills and treasures of craftsmen before they were buried by the Industrial Revolution. There is care and pride in every detail.

The Phraser

The Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri in Naples, Italy The Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri in Naples, Italy

The best treasure comes in chests, compact and crowded, that brim with what’s been most precious … and there should always be scars.

The Museo Filangieri is a chest like this.

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The music wrapped around the roots of Naples, Italy

I wrote this piece in April 2016 about the richness of the music in Naples. This is an updated version – improved I hope – with a range of YouTube links at the end.

The Phraser

A busker in Naples, Italy A busker in Naples, Italy

History makes music … it carves out life’s edges for the musicians to find.

Little wonder then that Naples, full of passion and secrets, is carpeted with song, with great singers and orchestras, and with the drift of the mandolin, of the saxophone and of jazz.

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Italy: Naples raises its voice to defend its rights over San Gennaro

I wrote this piece in March 2016. It gives the history of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, and covers the storm that raged over the threat to the city’s custody of the saint.

The Phraser

Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy Mural of San Gennaro near the Duomo in Naples, Italy

A threat has been made to the heart of an old city, to a unique relationship between the people and their saint.  The partnership has lasted through centuries of invasion, violence, disease and volcanic turbulence … but now bureaucracy wants its say.

The challenge is to the arrangements in place for the care of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, and his glittering collection of treasure.

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Madre: the museum of contemporary art in Napoli

This piece, first published in April 2016, was written after my first visit to the Madre in Naples. I loved the museum’s calm space, the range of its exhibits … and its roof terrace.

The Phraser

Internal courtyard of the Museo Madre in Naples, Italy with art by Mimmo Paladino on the roof Internal courtyard of the Museo Madre in Naples, Italy with art by Mimmo Paladino on the roof

Art is a place to be, a place that tries to reach us, provoke us. It swallows the rules, the clocks, the to and fro, and waits for us to respond.

Much of Naples itself is art – ancient, modern, faded, alive – but it does not have the quiet, the spaces between, that the Madre brings to its displays.  This is the luxury of a visit to the Madre, the chance to leave the hectic city and step into its  calm.

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