The Mater Dei neighbourhood is set in between the Vomero hill and the lower part of Naples, ending on via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi. As you will realize from the buildings architecture, the side of Mater Dei closer to Santa Teresa is even the older one, and it is exactly in the heart of this rione that you will find the Cimitero delle Fontanelle â€“ also known as â€˜e Funtanelle.
This cemetery has been set into a natural cave, right outside the walls of the Ancient Greek-Roman city, where the graveyard and the mass graves where located. These tufo caves had been used since the 1656 to collect the corpses of the victims of the plague. Two centuries later, the victims of another disease that spread all over the south Italy - cholera â€“ have been buried there. Only in the 1872 the structure of the cemetery was then organized and gates opened to the public.
Your guide will explain you in detail the traditional belief of the â€œanime pezzentelleâ€ and why Neapolitan people are so related to them â€“ not even mentioning the legends linked to some of the skulls kept into the cave!
You will then be led into the rione Sanitaâ€™, whose name comes from the Ancient belief that the area was rich of natural and supernatural salubritas. Set outside the walls of the polis, into the areas have been found many Greek ipogeos and paleo-Christian catacombs â€“ for instance, the well-known San Gaudioso ones. In the late XVII century, it was supposed to become one of the noblest neighbourhoods of Naples, but during the centuries it has then become more a popular district, where you can actually get in touch with the â€œreal Naplesâ€.
This journey off the beaten track of the historical centre will bring you to discover one of the most beautiful and hidden sides of the city.