Early Friday morning we left our hotel for the airport. So long Edinburgh Native hotel…
Go to Capri or stay in town? We were torn. I voted stay.
We started uphill towards Capodimonte, to see the largest catacombs in southern Italy, which are under the church of Madre del Buon Consiglio.
En route, we passed a tiny shop selling Setaro pasta. Score! Not available in Canada. Giada “can’t live without it.” Seriously! Turned out on 19th century machines and air dried like laundry.
The catacombs, the location, the original church, is pre-Christian, but the Christian burial site (once housing over 6,000 skeletons) goes back to the second century AD (or CE, can’t remember what’s politically correct), but over time were developed into what’s become an older, lower level, including the site of the pagan church, and and upper, more established area, where pilgrims came to pay their respects to Saint Gennaro.
So more or less starting clockwise in the gallery, entering at the top level of the catacombs. There were three ways to be buried, according to how much an individual tithed; level on the floor, horizontally wedged into the walls, or, for the elites, their own alcove, where they would be buried, levelled with marble, and their spouse(s) and heirs and so forth would be buried on top. For those lucky souls they more or less had their own private room with frescoes to boot. The peacock represents immortality; a nice Christian adoption of a pagan belief. The rectangular fresco sits above what was originally Saint Genarro’s tomb. The pictures after are of the lower, older level. The final fresco is of Jesus; hard to discern but he’s flanked by two angels with a deer at the river underneath.
For lunch we went to a NYT recommendation, La Stanza del Gusto, which was waiting room only outside, empty in. A sensational lunch of pickled vegetables with tomato pesto and homemade mayo, fried ravioli and a salted cod on bitter greens and breadcrumbs.
Oh, to die for deserts. I had a tart; the best way to describe it would be mincemeat, peel and assorted fruits, but in a jammy base. SS had (yes, SS had dessert) a house made coffee and almond ice cream; think Coffee Crisp crossed with Skor made by a chef in Italy.
After lunch we took the funicular to a high point of the city; although dating from 1926, the current cars are from 1975, and afford no view as they pass through a tunnel. That paled in comparison with our experience in Valparaiso, which was both old and terrifying. Still, it got us to the top. We walked the half km or so to the Castel Sant’Elmo, a 14th century fortress which affords not too much historical curiosity but a sensational vantage point for the city and bay.
Afterwards we took the metro close to the hotel (it was 33, we were pretty exhausted) and SS did some laundry at the lavanderia (a god!) and later on we went to a much lauded Trip Advisor spot which was yet another reason to put little store in TA