An introduction to the myths, the mysteries and the darker sides of the city which you cannot ignore if you want a proper vision of Neapolitan history. Explore the beauty of San Severo Chapel, built for Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero. It hosts the exquisitely-carved 'Veiled Christ' statue by Giuseppe Sanmartino. Learn about the superstitions of the Neapolitans when visiting the church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco where skulls were once “adopted” as recent as the 1980’s for good luck. The lower church (only accessible by guided tour) is most famous as a hot spot for the cult-like worship of the anime pezzentelle (poor souls).
This walking tour takes place in the historical center of Napoli where you will have the chance to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this busy block of the city.Right in the middle of the Decumanus Maggiore, the unmistakeable, majestic form of the Church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco rises above the chaos of everyday life. The Complex - which includes the Church, the Museum and the Hypogeum (the Lower Church) - represents an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the ancient cult of the souls in Purgatory. The upper Church, a true masterpiece of Baroque Neapolitan, and the lower church, or Hypogeum, where still today takes place the worship of poor (“pezzentelle”) souls. You can see graves dug into the ground as well as scaravattoli, which are small boxes of wood containing human remains which are, for the most part, anonymous. Although there are lots of bodies down here, one niche stands out because the skull is covered in a bridal veil and the head laid on a white cushion. There are also lots of flowers, pictures of saints, photographs of different people, and the many votive offerings from the mass of devotees who pray to Lucia, a girl who died at the age of sixteen and about whom legends abound. The tour will continue with the visit of the "Cappella Sansevero", one of the most enigmatic chapels in Europe, if only because its creator, Raimondo di Sangro , was deemed to be the Leornardo Da Vinci of his time: an inventor, interested in the human body, and apparently also interested in alchemy, though it is not always clear whether he practiced advanced science. Placed at the centre of the nave of the Chapel, the Veiled Christ is one of the most famous and impressive works of art in the world. Raimondo di Sangro appointed a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, to make a "life-sized marble statue, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ dead, and covered in a transparent shroud carved from the same block as the statue".