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
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
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
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.