Church, Historic Site sights in Campania
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The very essence of Naples' cultish brand of Catholicism, this holy sanctuary was once the stomping ground of stigmatic and mystic Santa Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe, the city's only canonised woman. It is also home to her miraculous wooden chair, a particular hit with infertile believers, who sit down on it in the hope of falling pregnant.
(Those after a blessing can request one from the Daughters of Santa Maria Francesca, who run the place.)
The holy furniture piece inhabits the saint's meticulously preserved 18th-century apartment. Here, the walls heave with modern baby trinkets and vivid 18th- and 19th-century paintings depicting fantastical holy healings – ex…
The most engrossing site at this 14th-century religious complex is its infamous ruota (wheel), set in the orphanage wall to the left of the basilica. As late as the 1980s, unwanted children were placed in a hollow in the wheel. On the other side of the wall sat a nun ready to take the baby, wash it in the adjacent basin and record its time of entry. Older children were sometimes forced into it, subjecting them to serious injury.
The basilica itself was significantly restructured by Luigi Vanvitelli and his son Carlo after a devastating fire in 1757 (the soaring 67m-high cupola is one of their additions). Luckily, the 1580 sacristy (to the right of the nave) survived the…
Architecture and history buffs shouldn't miss this richly layered religious complex, its breathtaking basilica deemed one of Naples' finest medieval buildings. Aside from Ferdinando Sanfelice's petite facade, its baroque makeover was stripped away last century revealing its original austere, Gothic elegance. Beneath it, 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) there's a cryptoporticus (covered market) with seven barrel-vaulted rooms.
Back at current street level, the basilica itself was…