NAPLES, Italy, Feb. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A few years ago, Focus Magazine participated in an urban speleology expedition organized with the Naples Underground Association. Naples Underground (Napoli Sotterranea), lead by Founder and President Vincenzo Albertini, has been involved in exploring and conserving the subsoil of the city for years and has ensured that this geological feature still stands, functionally today. Here are some of the trinkets of knowledge that they picked up along the way.
From a geological perspective, Naples is one of a kind in the world as it is bedded on top of a thick layer of yellow tuff, which was the result of nearby volcanoes in Campi Flegrei, thousands of years ago. This eruption resulted in a cool, soft rock that proves easy to extract and manipulate. It was then in the fourth century BC that the Greeks founded the city of Neapolis and opened tuff quarries to procure blocks and materials suitable for building.
Under the expert lead of Vincenzo Albertini, Focus magazine explores the Naples of today, in particular that square between via della Sapienza, via dei Tribunali, San Biagio dei librai and corso Umberto, which rests on the old medieval city. They discovered that from an unassuming room, you can go down through a trap door into the Roman theater where Nero sang and played the lyre. Across from the nearby Piazza San Gaetano one can then make their way beneath the surface, into a system of galleries and cisterns from the Greek and Roman era. This finally leads to large rooms or bunkers that, during the last world war, were converted into air-raid shelters, complete with electricity.
Many tunnels in Naples were filled with the treasures of war, smuggled cigarettes and remains of criminal activity of old, however, just a few steps from Piazza San Gaetano, in the church of Purgatorio ad Arco, another unique adventure of mystery awaits, descending into the afterlife. Here one can find a large mass grave where, in a layer 50 feet deep, rest the remains of one and a half million people.
Since their visit, The Municipality of Naples has opened this mass grave to the public as a historical monument of compassion. Here, one can see 40 thousand skulls in a row, one on top of the other. It was here that the society found a sort of return to ancient religion as many people considered these skulls to be souls in purgatory which provided the assistance of ancestors, while they were still living.
Finally, Vicenzo Albertini leaves the Focus team with the closing explanation that, “It was in the First World War and then in the Second that, with so many missing … in the concentration camps, the custom of adopting a “cap ‘e mort” spread … The purpose was to communicate, through the skull of a stranger, with the soul of a loved one, to have news of him.”
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SOURCE Naples Underground