Pio Monte della Misericordia

Top choice church in Centro Storico

Image by Bonnie Alberts Lonely Planet

The 1st-floor gallery of this octagonal, 17th-century church delivers a satisfying, digestible collection of Renaissance and baroque art, including works by Francesco de Mura, Jusepe de Ribera, Andrea Vaccaro and Paul van Somer. It's also home to contemporary artworks by Italian and foreign artists, each inspired by Caravaggio's masterpiece Le sette opere di Misericordia (The Seven Acts of Mercy). Considered by many to be the most important painting in Naples, you'll find it above the main altar in the ground-floor chapel.

Magnificently demonstrating the artist's chiaroscuro style, which had a revolutionary impact in Naples, Le sette opere di Misericordia was considered unique in its ability to illustrate the various acts in one seamlessly choreographed scene. Pio Monte della Misericordia's archives are home to the Declaratoria del 14 Ottobre 1607, an original church document acknowledging payment of 400 ducats to Caravaggio for the painting. A photocopy of the document is on display in the 1st-floor gallery, where you can also view the painting from the gallery's Sala del Coretto (Coretto Room).

On the opposite side of the street stands the Guglia di San Gennaro. Dating back to 1636, with stonework by Cosimo Fanzago and a bronze statue by Tommaso Montani, the obelisk is a soaring grazie (thank you) to the city's patron saint for protecting Naples from the 1631 eruption of Mt Vesuvius.


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