Italy, being the land of churches, has so many with ornate marble, gold and paintings of angels that they start to blend together. Unlike in Rome where many cathedrals are in excellent condition, Duomo di Napoli AKA the Cattedrale di San Gennaro is a mix of rustic and daunting Gothic and Baroque architecture. You can see that Napoli does not have the eye towards pretty tourism, but has the personality and grit of a port city.
My son and I wandered through the narrow streets, passing old men sitting out on the stoop and small markets for locals in search of a few sights before we went for pizza at the famous Da Michele. Walking up a small hill, the street opened to the cathedral set back from the rest of the buildings. The narrow height felt as if I was looking up at something heavenly, solid and timeless.
Two worn lions guard the ancient door that feels as if you have walked into medieval Italy. This floor has seen tens of thousands of people walk through the door and wears the worn marble proudly. You will find the marble statuary, the frescos, alters and painted, vauled ceilings, but as a New Yorker and someone whose paternal grandmother's family was Napolitan, I was more interested in the San Gennaro history... the vial of Saint Januarius' blood that is said to liquify once a year... and to see who the San Gennaro festival in New York celebrated.
What I found facinating was the amazing marble floor... every detail was planned for the entry, the main floor and every chapel. The missing skull and crossbone welcomed you and the many carved tiles and mosaic designs demarked different areas of the cathedral. The sculptures and paintings are incredible, but I found more interest in the small details... while everyone looked up, I looked down... and found a secret treasure.
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