The real Naples in the environs of Palazzo De Sangro

Coat-of-arms of the De Sangro family frescoed on the vestibule’s vaulted ceiling of Palazzo De Sangro

The Alfonso Artiaco gallery takes up a wing of the second floor of Palazzo De Sangro di Vietri, in Piazzetta Nilo, near Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. We are right in the heart of Naples’ historic center, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

If you look carefully, you can recognize – frescoed on the vestibule’s vaulted ceiling and carved in marble on the portal – the coat-of-arms of the De Sangro family, who commissioned the building. A peculiarity of this palace is that it is one of the few to have two piani nobili; the Duke of Martina who once lived here is the same who donated his collection of porcelain to the Museum today bearing his name, one of the lesser-known but most extraordinary places in Naples.

The Palazzo looks onto one of the city’s most important streets, the Decumano Inferiore, better known as Spaccanapoli. Running behind it is the most important thoroughfare of the ancient Greek urban layout, the Decumano Maggiore (Via dei Tribunali). The city’s most significant historical and religious buildings are located along these two streets, including the Pio Monte della Misericordia, which houses the canvas of the Seven Works of Mercy by Caravaggio, and the Sansevero Chapel, a treasure trove of masterpieces such as the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino and the incredible “anatomical machines,” as well as the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Filangieri Museum and the Monumental Complex of the Girolamini and its library, the Church of Santa Chiara and the Church of Gesù Nuovo, the Cathedral and the Madre Museum, just to name a few. It is here, in the heart of the city, that beggars have always lived side-by-side with aristocrats, as also recounted by Goethe and Stendhal.

Cappella del Pio Monte della Misericordia. Photo: Sergio Siano