Statistiche - Around Naples

english yellow pages

The Museum of San Lorenzo
by Jeff Matthews
They did it again: while I wasn't looking, another fine, small museum in Naples has opened. (The last one was the archaeological display at the Museo entrance to the new metropolitana train line.) This time, it's the turn of the church of San Lorenzo, just off the interesecton of via dei Tribunali and via San Gregorio Armeno, the precise geographical center of the historic Greco-Roman city of Naples, which area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The church, itself, sits directly atop the old Roman forum and market place; that site was excavated and opened to the public in 1992 and, since then, has been one of the principal tourist attractions in the old city since it is the only large-scale excavated Roman site in the city. Entrance to that site is through the portal below the belfry of the church, across the main courtyard and down a flight of stairs.

Now, as of December 2005, the "rest"--the new museum--is open to the public. The three floors above the courtyard are now given over to the entire history of the area that centers on San Lorenzo. The first floor of the new exhibit is dedicated to the archaeological site, itself; it includes a timetable of the excavation, recovered marble and ceramics from the old market, a table-top plastic model of the entire central area of the old city including the adjacent Temple of the Dioscuri (now the church of San Paolo Maggiore ), and an historical description of the ancient city of Neapolis (from which the name "Naples" derives).

As you then move up from floor to floor, you move forward in time, from Neapolis to a display of the historical shipping routes from Naples throughout Magna Grecia and the Roman Empire. That floor includes more recovered pottery, marble and mosaic. Above that is the history of post-Roman Naples at the site of San Lorenzo, first as a sixth-century paleo-Christian monastery, then as a medieval town-hall and then the large Franciscan monastery and church, the construction of which was begun in 1234. The display continues up past the Angevin period and into more recent history; it includes an exhibit of ecclesiastical paraphernalia on the top floor.