If you’re going to study art history, then Italy is definitely the place to come. After being here for a month and a half (I know, time is flying by) and seeing most works of art in person through on site visits during class, I don’t ever want to look at a projected slide in a dark classroom ever again!! This past weekend my High Baroque Art History class made our way to Naples for a weekend excursion to see some art and eat good food. Early Friday morning we got on the bus at 7 am and arrived at the Capodimonte Museum (museum on top of the hill) in Naples at 10 am. This beautiful Neopolitan red castle sat in the middle of a large park packed with kids of all ages running around playing soccer. We toured the museum for about three hours seeing various Caravaggio paintings and Caravaggisti artists (artists that followed in Caravaggios footsteps after he died) that represent the Baroque period in art.
After the Capodimonte Museum we walked to the tram that goes to the top part of Naples where you can look out with an entire view of the city and Mount Vesuvius. Right on this hill sits the Certosa di San Martino which used to be a Monastery and is now a museum. We met back at the bus at 6pm and headed to our hotel where we unpacked and then met up for dinner at a local Neopolitan restaurant at 7:30 pm. Hands down the best meal that I’ve eaten while I’ve been in Italy. Fried seaweed started off my meal followed by a shellfish of the sea dish; clams, mussels, razor clams, calamari, and shrimp over pasta. For just 6 euro I had one of the best meals of my life. Tired from a full day of touring and walking around Naples, we made our way back to the hotel after dinner for a good night’s sleep to prepare for Saturday’s long excursion.
Saturday was spent in the historic center of Naples viewing artistic monuments. We went to the Duomo of San Gennaro which houses frescoes by Lanfranco, Domenichino, and Ribera. Afterwards we made our way over to see one of Caravaggios masterpieces, Seven Acts of Mercy, in the Pio Monte della Misericordia. Although this trip was specifically for viewing the works of art, we did get some free time before lunch. During my free time I bought an Italian Horn bracelet, an ancient symbol that protects against the evil eye superstition. Lunch was next! We went to what is said to be the best pizza place in Naples, Sorbillo. After lunch our professor gave a walking tour of Spaccanapoli, the ancient quarter with a long narrow street splitting Naples in half. On this street we stopped at many churches along the way to view Baroque art, and lastly we stopped at the Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano to view Caravaggios last work of art, Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. This piece was originally bought as a Caravaggisti painting, meaning that it had much less value. After some art historians researched the piece and the story behind it, it was indeed found that it was an original Caravaggio painting, and his last work at that.
Overall the trip was a great success. It prepared me for the midterm by seeing all the pieces in person, showed me Naples, and gave me the two best meals in Italy so far.