Sant'Anna dei Lombardi: an enchanting piece of Florence in Naples

by Gaia Borrelli

A real piece of Florence in Naples. This is how we can define the church of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi, in Piazza Monteoliveto. It is not only one of the most beautiful and interesting monumental churches in Naples, but it is a one-of-a-kind example of Florentine Renaissance architecture.

A church that stands there, almost quietly, secluded from the canonical tourist routes, yet a two steps from main road axes of the city center. An almost anonymous facade, bare, compared to the usual ones pompous and domineering facades of the great Neapolitan baroque churches. Yet this church hides so many surprises, a real land of artistic and architectural wonders.

Sant & #039; Anna dei Lombardi
Photo by Gaia Borrelli

At the origins of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi

The complex was founded in 1411 Gurello Origlia with the patronage of the king Ladislao of Durazzo; the church at that time was though dedicated to Santa Maria di Monteoliveto and had been entrusted to the fathers Olivetans.

The church later became one of the favorite of the Aragonese court, the same Alfonso I undertook you significant expansion works. The structure makes us understand how they should have been at the time close ties between Naples and Florence; it is no coincidence that some of the most important Tuscan Renaissance artists, Giuliano da Maiano and Antonio Rossellino, intervened for its construction and subsequent decoration, artists who disseminated their genius in the city also in other (albeit not too numerous) masterpieces.

Sant & #039; Anna dei Lombardi interior
To remain breathless. Photograph by Sant'Anna dei Lombardi complex

The removal of the Olivetans

In 1798 the king Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies ordered the removal of the Olivetan friars and on the whole there Yes established the Lombard archconfraternity, which at the time resided in another church nearby but surrendered unusable. From that moment the church was called as it is known today, Sant'Anna dei Lombardi.

The architecture of this church is a real one symposium of styles, as certainly evident is the Renaissance imprint given to it, an imprint that however merges with the Gothic architectural remains, unfortunately almost entirely incorporated and hide from alterations that took place in the Baroque era. The side chapels, five on the side plus four in the presbytery, are certainly of a purely Renaissance style, among which that of the Piccolomini (ancient Florentine family) and that Correale. There Piccolomini chapel it is in fact a copy of a chapel in the famous church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence.

In the church it is  present the tomb of the famous architect Domenico Fontana, coming from the destroyed church of Sant'Anna, in addition to the tombs of Neapolitan nobles. In the vast oratory that opens to the right of the presbytery is the sculptural complex of the "Lamentation over the Dead Christ" by Guido Mazzoni (1492), made up of eight life-size statues, which according to tradition represent the Aragonese kings.

From these environments we then pass into the old sacristy, originally refectory, a splendid setting of Gothic characterization with cross vaults that were stuccoed and decorated by the master Vasari, creating one of the most spectacular environments of all Neapolitan architecture.

Sant & #039; anna dei Lombardi
There is no point in this church that does not know how to enchant. Photograph of Sant'Anna dei Lombardi

A gem to visit

This church is a real one jewel of architecture, a summa of Neapolitan and Tuscan art which, merging, create an incredible combination of styles and influences.

A happy union that only here could it have reached this artistic stature, being Naples a city crossroads of cultures that it has been able to retain and rework.

- Gaia Borrelli

Website of the museum complex

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