Complesso Monumentale di San Lorenzo Maggiore
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Complesso Monumentale di San Lorenzo Maggiore information
Architecture and history buffs shouldn't miss this richly layered religious complex, its commanding basilica deemed one of Naples' finest medieval buildings. Aside from Ferdinando Sanfelice's petite facade, the Cappella al Rosario and the Cappellone di Sant'Antonio, its baroque makeover was stripped away last century to reveal its austere, Gothic elegance. Beneath the basilica, a sprawl of extraordinary ruins will transport you back two millennia.
Down here you can conjure up the Graeco-Roman city as you walk past ancient bakeries, wineries and communal laundries. At the far end of the cardo (road) are seven barrel-vaulted rooms that once formed part of a covered market.
The basilica itself was commenced in 1270 by French architects, who built the apse. Local architects took over the following century, recycling ancient columns in the nave. Catherine of Austria, who died in 1323, is buried here in a beautiful mosaicked tomb. Legend has it that this was where Boccaccio first fell for Mary of Anjou, the inspiration for his character Fiammetta, while the poet Petrarch called the adjoining convent home in 1345.
The religious complex is also home to the Museo dell'Opera di San Lorenzo Maggiore and its intriguing booty of local archaeological finds, including Graeco-Roman sarcophagi, ceramics and crockery from the digs below. Other treasures include vivacious 9th-century ceramics, Angevin frescoes, paintings by Giuseppe Marullo and Luigi Velpi, and fine examples of 17th- and 18th-century ecclesiastical vestments.