Via Chiaia, 139, Napoli, 80132 NA, Italia
Just very few steps from Cinema Metropolitan, which was built exactly in the caves underneath the building, there is an incredible historical palace: this is “Palazzo Cellamare”, born in 1522 when the Carafa aristocrats started building it. Its history has not been easy since the beginning as it risked to be burned by a popular trying to revolt against the tax on the wine, placed by the very famous Viceroy Pedro de Toledo.
During 1630 it was the core of the cultural and literal activity of Isabella Gonzaga’s association, but this calmness ended very soon: during 1646 this palace was attacked by Masaniello’s rebels, who were rejected with cannon balls, and then it became even a leper hospital in 1656, after the outbreak of the plague.
Why “Cellamare”? It was dedicated to Antonio Giudice, Prince of Cellamare, who purchased it at auction in the 1700s for 1800 ducats, which were loads of money at the time! He instituted the huge marble coat of arms and enriched its inner church dedicated to the Virgin of Carmelo.
From 1760 this building was transformed in a kind of realm thanks to the Prince of Francavilla, who started throwing parties and inviting lots of celebrities such as Goethe, the painters Kauffmann and Hackert, and Casanova (exactly him) after Torquato Tasso and Caravaggio lived there at the end of 1500. Queen Carolina as well enriched it with paintings from Farnese collection, which she added to the already luxurious furniture.
This palace, which in 1799 survived to the possible raid during Neapolitan revolution, got to us through several trading events without losing its beauty. Ah, we almost forgot that! Just because it looked bare, the palace was provided with an amazing garden on two floors: the one on the lower floor has a beautiful marble fountain; the second one – higher – was used to grow pineapples, already in the 1700s!!
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