Statistiche - Around Naples

english yellow pages

by Jeff Matthews
Neapolitan construction times are so slow that they are measured in "Cheops", one such unit being equal to the length of time it took to build that wondrous pyramid on the Giza Plain. I think the Naples Metropolitana (the subway train line) must surely have polished off one whole Cheop by now and put serious dents in the next. Let's call it 1.2 Cheops with the meter still running and not hold our breath. Yet, it is fitting and proper to give credit to those projects that actually get done. Thus...

Item 1. Palazzo Carafa di Roccella (top two photos) sits two blocks back from the Riviera di Chiaia on one of the main shopping streets, via dei Mille. It is an enormous red building, a block long and three stories high. I remember that the building looked abandoned for a long time and then had scaffolding on the faade for another very long time--sort of a permanent suggestion that they might be getting ready to do something with it "some day".

I learned that the building had been through various incarnations since being built in the 1600s. Indeed, the opening of the new via dei Mille in the 1880s cut the original property almost in half , eliminating secondary buildings and a spectacular garden. What was left was abandoned in the early 20th century; then, in the 1960s it almost fell prey to the land developers' wrecking ball (in which case that part of Naples would now have even more of those cement cracker boxes they built in which to house the "economic miracle" of 40 years ago.) Now, however--apparently, while I wasn't looking--the construction cranes have finished their job, the paint is dry, "some day" is here, and this old, old building now houses a new museum of modern art.

It goes by the slightly too clever acronym of PAN--Palazzo delle Arti Napoli--but who cares. It's finished--6,000 square meters on 3 floors, dedicated to contemporary and modern art. Complete with book shop and coffee bar, PAN is now part of the Neapolitan museum complex that includes the Royal Palace, the Capodimonte Museum, and the National Archaeological Museum.

Item 2. The infamous Chiaia cable-car (bottom 2 photos). Yes, the Erector Set from Planet X, stalled for two decades in a lawsuit brought by someone with good taste, is almost finished. At least it works, and, in its post-modernist Art Wrecko way, isn't that bad to look at.