Palazzo Donn'Anna


Incomplete, semiderelict yet hauntingly beautiful, this seaside Posillipo villa takes its name from Anna Carafa, for whom it was built as a wedding present from her husband, Ramiro Núñez de Guzmán, the Spanish viceroy of Naples. When Núñez de Guzmán hotfooted it back to Spain in 1644 he left his wife heartbroken in Naples. She died shortly afterwards and architectural whiz-kid Cosimo Fanzago gave up the project.

The grand yet forlorn heap sits on the site of an older villa, La Sirena (The Mermaid), reputed setting for Queen Joan’s scandalous sex orgies and crimes of passion (rumour has it that fickle Joan dumped her lovers straight into the sea). Exactly which Queen Joan is up for debate. Some believe her royal nastiness was Joan I (1326–82), daughter of Charles, Duke of Calabria. Her list of alleged wicked deeds includes knocking off her husband. Others place their bets on Joan II (1373–1435), sister of King Ladislas, her appetite for men remains the stuff of licentious legend.

Palazzo Donn’Anna is usually not open to the public.