ECC19 will take place in Naples, “the city of the sun”, a place of soul-stirring art and panoramas, spontaneous conversations and unexpected, inimitable elegance.
With over 1 million inhabitants, 5 Universities and several research centers, Naples is the third largest Italian city.
It hosts one of the oldest Universities in the world, the University of Naples Federico II founded in 1224.
Its control group is the organizer of the conference in collaboration with the control group at the younger University of Sannio in Benevento which was founded in 1994.
The area is characterised by the presence of several high-tech companies involved with control applications in different engineering fields such as automotive, railway, aerospace, electronics, food.
Built by the Normans in the 12th century, Naples’ most ancient castle owes its name (Castel dell’Ovo means Castle of the Egg) to Virgil. Standing to the legend, the Roman poet buried an egg on the site where the castle is standing todays and warned that, should the egg ever breaks, the castle (and Naples) will fall together. Thankfully, both Naples and the Castle are still standing, and walking up to the castle’s ramparts will reward you with a breathtaking panorama. Used by the Swabians, Angevins and Alfonso of Aragon, who modified it to suit his military needs, the castle sits on the rocky, restaurant-lined ‘island’ of, Borgo Marinaro.
When you need a break from Naples’ at-the-time of hyperactive activities, take a break at the pedestrians-only seafront area. Along the area, stretching 2.5km along via Partenope and via Francesco Caracciolo you will have views that are nothing short of exquisite. You will indeed be able to enjoy the views of the bay and its islands, Mt Vesuvius, two castles and Vomero’s Liberty-style villas. The area is particularly romantic at dusk, when Capri and the volcano take on a mellow orange hue.
Separating the Lungomare from Riviera di Chiaia is the Villa Comunale, a long, leafy park designed by Luigi Vanvitelli for Private Bourbon frolicking. Its bountiful booty of fountains includes the Fontana delle Paperelle (Duck Fountain), which replaced the famous Toro Farnese after it was moved to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in 1825. The park is also home to the Stazione Zoologica, Europe’s oldest aquarium. The acquarium was established by the German Darwinist Anton Dohrn and it’s housed in a neoclassical building designed by Adolf von Hildebrand. These days, the aquarium is home to 200 species of marine flora and fauna from the city’s bay. The aquarium also includes the impressive recently restored reading room. The room is adorned with engaging, 19th-century frescoes depicting Mediterranean life by German painter Hans von Marées and Hildebrand himself.
Close to Piazza Plebiscito, a 16th-century monument to Spanish glory (Naples was under Spanish rule at the time), the magnificent Palazzo Reale is home to the Museo del Palazzo Reale, a rich and eclectic collection of baroque and neoclassical furnishings, porcelain, tapestries, sculpture and paintings, spread across the palace’s royal apartments. Among the many highlights is the Teatrino di Corte, a lavish private theatre created by Ferdinando Fuga in 1768 to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinand IV and Marie Caroline of Austria. Incredibly, Angelo Viva’s statues of Apollo and the Muses set along the walls are made of papier mâché.
Sala (Room) VIII is home to a pair of vivid, allegorical 18th-century French tapestries representing earth and water respectively. Further along, Sala XII will leave you sniggering at the 16th-century canvas Gli esattori delle imposte (The Tax Collectors). Painted by Dutch artist Marinus Claesz Van Reymerswaele, it confirms that attitudes to tax collectors have changed little in 500 years. Sala XIII used to be Joachim Murat’s study in the 19th century but was used as a snack bar by Allied troops in WWII. Meanwhile, what looks like a waterwheel in Sala XXIII is actually a nifty rotating reading desk made for Marie Caroline by Giovanni Uldrich in the 18th century.
The Cappella Reale (Royal Chapel) houses an 18th-century presepe napoletano (Neapolitan nativity crib). Fastidiously detailed, its cast of pastori (crib figurines) were crafted by a series of celebrated Neapolitan artists, including Giuseppe Sanmartino, creator of the Cristo velato (Veiled Christ) sculpture in the Cappella Sansevero.
The palace is also home to the Biblioteca Nazionale, its own priceless treasures including at least 2000 papyri discovered at Herculaneum and fragments of a 5th-century Coptic Bible. The National Library’s beautiful Biblioteca Lucchesi Palli (Lucchesi Palli Library; closed Saturday) – designed by some of Naples’ most celebrated 19th-century craftspeople – is home to numerous fascinating artistic artefacts, including letters by composer Giuseppe Verdi.
An evening at Italy’s largest opera house, the Teatro San Carlo, is magical. Although the original 1737 theatre burnt down in 1816, Antonio Niccolini’s 19th-century reconstruction is pure Old World opulence. If you can’t make it to a performance, consider taking one of the 45-minute guided tours of the venue. Tours usually take in the foyers, elegant main hall and royal box (the best seat in the house) and tour tickets can be purchased at the theatre up to 15 minutes before each tour begins.
Constructed by Spanish viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo in the 16th century, palazzo-flanked via Toledo (also known as via Roma) is Naples’ veritable high street and a popular strip for an evening “passeggiata” (stroll). With ever-busy Piazza Trento e Trieste at its southern end, it becomes via Enrico Pessina further north, skimming past piazza Dante and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale on its way towards lofty Capodimonte.
Directly west of via Toledo lie the razor-thin streets of the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter), originally built to house Don Pedro’s Spanish troops. These alleys harbour a handful of hidden delights, from cut-price drinking holes to the unmissable Pignasecca market. Squeeze in for a serve of pure Napoli popolana (working-class Naples).
William Kentridge’s monumental equestrian statue trumpets entry to this award-winning, jaw-dropping Metro Art Station. The station lobby features dazzling mosaic of shadowy characters parades with Naples’ patron saint, San Gennaro, its grand marshal. Along the 50-metre descent to the station platforms, dark becomes light, the earth morphs into the sea and, at the bottom, waves (in the form of Robert Wilson’s light panel installation) carry passengers to the below-sea-level platform.
Walk across five centuries along Naples’ engrossing Bourbon Tunnel. Conceived by Ferdinand II in 1853 to link the Palazzo Reale to the barracks and the sea, the never-completed escape route is part of the 17th-century Carmignano Aqueduct system, itself incorporating 16th-century cisterns. An air-raid shelter and military hospital during the WWII, this underground labyrinth rekindles the past with evocative wartime artefacts. Tours also depart from Borbonica’s second entrance, reached through the Parcheggio Morelli (via Domenico Morelli 40) parking complex in Chiaia.
This evocative guided tour leads you 40m below street level to explore Naples’ ancient labyrinth of aqueducts, passages and cisterns: Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground). The passages were originally hewn by the Greeks to extract tufo stone used in construction and to channel water from Mt Vesuvius. Extended by the Romans, the network of conduits and cisterns was more recently used as an air-raid shelter in WWII. Part of the tour takes place by candlelight via extremely narrow passages.
Naples’ National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) serves up one of the world’s finest collections of Graeco-Roman artefacts. The museum was established by the Bourbon king Charles VII in the late 18th century to house the antiquities he inherited from his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, as well as treasures looted from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Star exhibits include the celebrated Toro Farnese (Farnese Bull) sculpture and a series of awe-inspiring mosaics from Pompeii’s Casa del Fauno.
Dismissed by serious collectors, this narrow street remains famous across Italy for its pastori (Christmas crib figurines) nonetheless. Connecting Spaccanapoli with via dei Tribunali, the decumanus maior (main road) of ancient Neapolis, its clutter of shops and workshops peddle everything from doting donkeys to kitsch celebrity caricatures. At no. 8 you’ll find the workshop of Giuseppe Ferrigno, whose terracotta figurines are the most famous and esteemed on the strip.
It’s in this Masonic-inspired baroque chapel that you’ll find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s incredible sculpture, Cristo velato (Veiled Christ), its marble veil so realistic that it’s tempting to try to lift it and view Christ underneath. It’s one of several artistic wonders that include Francesco Queirolo’s sculpture Disinganno (Disillusion), Antonio Corradini’s Pudicizia (Modesty) and riotously colourful frescoes by Francesco Maria Russo, the latter untouched since their creation in 1749.
Vast, Gothic and cleverly deceptive, the mighty Basilica di Santa Chiara stands at the heart of this tranquil monastery complex. The church was severely damaged in WWII: what you see today is a 20th-century recreation of Gagliardo Primario’s 14th-century original. Adjoining it are the basilica’s cloisters, adorned with brightly coloured 17th-century majolica tiles and frescoes. While the Angevin porticoes date back to the 14th century, the cloisters took on their current look in the 18th century thanks to the landscaping work of Domenico Antonio Vaccaro.
Adjacent to the cloisters, a small and elegant museum of mostly ecclesiastical props also features the excavated ruins of a 1st-century spa complex, including a remarkably well-preserved laconicum (sauna). Commissioned by Robert of Anjou for his wife Sancia di Maiorca, the monastic complex was built to house 200 monks and the tombs of the Angevin royal family. Dissed as a ‘stable’ by Robert’s ungrateful son Charles of Anjou, the basilica received a luscious baroque makeover by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro, Gaetano Buonocore and Giovanni Del Gaizo in the 18th century before taking a direct hit during an Allied air raid on 4 August 1943. Its reconstruction was completed in 1953. Features that did survive the fire include part of a 14th-century fresco to the left of the main door and a chapel containing the tombs of the Bourbon kings from Ferdinand I to Francesco II.
The church forecourt makes a cameo in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Il Decameron (The Decameron), itself based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th-century novel.
Whether you go for Giovanni Lanfranco’s fresco in the Cappella di San Gennaro (Chapel of St Janarius), the 4th-century mosaics in the baptistry, or the thrice-annual miracle of San Gennaro, do not miss Naples’ cathedral. Kick-started by Charles I of Anjou in 1272 and consecrated in 1315, it was largely destroyed in a 1456 earthquake, with copious nips and tucks over the subsequent centuries.
Among these is the gleaming neo-Gothic facade, only added in the late 19th century. Step inside and you’ll immediately notice the central nave’s gilded coffered ceiling, studded with late-Mannerist art. The high sections of the nave and the transept are the work of the baroque overachiever Luca Giordano.
Off the right aisle, the 17th-century Cappella di San Gennaro (also known as the Chapel of the Treasury) was designed by Giovanni Cola di Franco and completed in 1637. The most sought-after artists of the period worked on the chapel, creating one of Naples’ greatest baroque legacies. Highlights here include Giuseppe de Ribera’s gripping canvas St Gennaro Escaping the Furnace Unscathed and Giovanni Lanfranco’s dizzying dome fresco. Hidden away in a strongbox behind the altar is a 14th-century silver bust in which sit the skull of San Gennaro and the two phials that hold his miraculously liquefying blood.
The next chapel eastwards contains an urn with the saint’s bones and a cupboard full of femurs, tibias and fibulas. Below the high altar is the Cappella Carafa, a Renaissance chapel built to house yet more of the saint’s remains.
Off the left aisle lies the 4th-century Basilica di Santa Restituta, subject to an almost complete makeover after the earthquake of 1688. From it you can access the Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte. Western Europe’s oldest baptistry, it’s encrusted with fragments of glittering 4th-century mosaics. The Duomo’s subterranean archaeological zone, which includes fascinating remains of Greek and Roman buildings and roads, remains closed indefinitely.
If you’re intrigued by Naples’ cultish love affair with San Gennaro, eye up his glittering treasury at the Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro, adjacent to the Duomo. Gifts made to Naples’ patron saint include ambitious bronze busts, silver ampullae, even a gilded 18th-century sedan chair used to transport his bust on rainy procession days. The star attraction, however, is Matteo Treglia’s extraordinary 18th-century mitre, adorned with 3694 gems: 3328 diamonds, 198 emeralds and 168 rubies.
Naples’ oldest and most sacred catacombs, the Catacombe di San Gennaro, became a Christian pilgrimage site when San Gennaro’s body was interred here in the 5th century. The carefully restored site allows visitors to experience an evocative other world of tombs, corridors and broad vestibules. Among its treasures are included 2nd-century Christian frescoes, 5th-century mosaics and the oldest known portrait of San Gennaro. The catacombs also host occasional theatrical and live-music performances.
The high point (quite literally) of the Neapolitan baroque, the Certosa di San Martino is a charterhouse-turned-museum founded as a Carthusian monastery in the 14th century. Centred on one of the most beautiful cloisters in Italy, it has been decorated, adorned and altered over the centuries by some of Italy’s finest talents, most importantly Giovanni Antonio Dosio in the 16th century and baroque master Cosimo Fanzago a century later. Nowadays, it is a superb repository of Neapolitan artistry.
The monastery’s church and the rooms that flank it contain a feast of frescoes and paintings by some of Naples’ greatest 17th-century artists, among them Francesco Solimena, Massimo Stanzione, Giuseppe de Ribera and Battista Caracciolo. In the nave, Cosimo Fanzago’s inlaid marble work is simply extraordinary.
Adjacent to the church, the Chiostro dei Procuratori is the smaller of the monastery’s two cloisters. A grand corridor on the left leads to the larger Chiostro Grande (Great Cloister). Originally designed by Dosio in the late 16th century and added to by Fanzago, it is a sublime composition of Tuscan-Doric porticoes, marble statues and vibrant camellias. The skulls mounted on the balustrade were a lighthearted reminder to the monks of their own mortality. Just off the Chiostro dei Procuratori, the small Sezione Navale documents the history of the Bourbon navy from 1734 to 1860, and features a small collection of beautiful royal barges. The Sezione Presepiale houses a whimsical collection of rare Neapolitan presepi (nativity scenes) from the 18th and 19th centuries, including the colossal 18th-century Cuciniello creation, which covers one wall of what used to be the monastery’s kitchen. The Quarto del Priore in the southern wing houses the bulk of the picture collection, as well as one of the museum’s most famous pieces, Pietro Bernini’s tender Madonna col Bambino e San Giovannino (Madonna and Child with the Infant John the Baptist).
Below the Certosa is the imposing Sotterranei Gotici (Gothic basement). The austere vaulted space harbours circa 150 marble sculptures and epigraphs, including a statue of St Francis of Assisi by 18th-century master sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino.
Tossed like colourful dice into the beautiful blue Bay of Naples, the islands of the Amalfi Coast are justifiably famous and sought out. The three islands are tantalisingly different from each other. Procida, Ischia and Capri vary not just in ambience and landscape but also in their sights, activities and size. Picturesque Procida is the smallest of the trio. This island is tiny, tranquil and unspoiled: it is possible to explore it in just a few hours. The fashionable flipside is Capri, with its celebrity circuit of experiences, sights and shops: plan your day (and your footwear) with care, especially if you’re hoping to hike. Ischia is the largest island, with natural spas, botanical gardens, hidden coves and exceptional dining. If that all sounds too challenging, you can still head to one of island beaches, among the best in the whole Bay of Naples.
Charming hilltop towns, acres of lemon groves and vineyards, mile after mile of stunning cliffs kissed by cobalt-blue waters… its official name is the Amalfi Coast, but this magical land answers to “heaven.” On this trip, you’ll live like one of the region’s locals, discovering the small towns, mountain trails and local customs of this uniquely beautiful place.
Source / Lonelyplanet
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