Our journey starts from church of Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta, at the gates of the major decumanus, in via dei Tribunali, in the heart of the historic center of Naples.

We will go to the discovery of a long underground path, we will go into the deeper cavities, until you touch the History, the Legend and archeology that surround this place.

According to an ancient legend, around the 6th century AD, in the heart of the Parthenope city, a huge pig wandered around at night, who emitted terrifying grunts; the local people, frightened, soon began to think that behind the figure of that pig was hidden the devil himself.

The Madonna came to her aid and went in a dream to Bishop Pomponius, with the order to build a church dedicated to her on the remains of a pagan temple; so it was and from that day the pig disappeared forever.

Storia e segreti della Pietrasanta

"You will see the signs of the passage of the ancient Greeks and the Latin fathers, traces of incalculable value ... Here the saint Pomponio wanted to dedicate a temple to the Virgin .. I was present when the Fanzago rebuilt the basilica and the remains of the cult of Diana came to light, fruit of science, long studies of men who came after me… you will see and have a good journey ”.

The crypt of Pietrasanta

Once in the crypt of the basilica after having passed a first flight of stairs, we meet Carlo Celano, or rather, a faithful one digital reconstruction of the Neapolitan scholar of the seventeenth century, who thus welcomes us.

The real protagonist of our trip is definitely the technology; at Lapis there are multimedia screens and laboratories, living canvases, projections and 3D activities by "Phantasya”A Neapolitan company leader in Italy and not only in 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites, in the development of virtual reality and digital restoration projects.

Pietrasanta pavimento

And it is precisely the projection of a beautiful mosaic from the Roman period within Lapis to immediately capture our attention; richly colored and made with precious materials, it probably belonged to a luxurious domus of some rich patrician. The original mosaic is located under the altar of the basilica, but today it is not possible to visit it.

You don't have time to contemplate such wonder that in a short time you are taken by a sense of ache: remains of human bones are kept in a small room at the back of the room; we are facing a ossuary from the late seventeenth century, placed under the stairs of the basilica, where the bones of stillborn children, or those who died shortly after birth, were collected.

Pietrasanta ossa

A river of history

Our journey continues, and gradually the history of the Basilica is increasingly intertwined with that of the city; other flights of stairs lead us ever closer to the heart of these environments, at a depth of about 40 meters; during the descent, we come across numerous message boards, inside which they are kept antiques found by speleologists, who, like an open book, recount events and characters who have lived part of their lives in these underground caves.

A millennial river of history flows silently, the past here is marked by a backward time line; for a moment let's go back to the mind 1943 thanks to the first showcase, which shows inside the cover of a soldier's typewriter together with a mortar; remains found in environments that in the past served as shelters during the war.

Storia e segreti della Pietrasanta

Further on, it is possible to admire the tools used in 1600 for the rebuilding of the basilica; the "smarra”In particular it was a tool used by quarrymen to reduce the tuff blocks to a minimum, which were then brought to the surface.

Storia e segreti della Pietrasanta

If today it is possible to enjoy this experience full of emotions inside the Lapis Pietrasanta Museum, immersed in the Culture and History of our city, we must warmly thank a group of Neapolitan entrepreneurs. Indeed L'Pietrasanta Cultural Pole Association Onlus and Monsignor Vincenzo De Gregorio, rector of the Basilica, thanks to hard work and huge investments for over one and a half million euros, after fifteen long years have given back to Neapolitans and not, this cradle of archaeological wonders until recently closed to the public and exposed to decay and abuses of all kinds.

Being able to give Lapis a soul again is a miracle, it is the demonstration that when good forces are put together, extraordinary results can be obtained. " he has declared Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.

Storia e segreti della Pietrasanta

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The Basilica was built in 533 on the remains of a Roman temple from San Pomponio, bishop of Naples, and was the first church in the whole city to be dedicated to the Virgin.

Due to the damage caused by the frequent earthquakes, it was decided to demolish it and, thanks to an excellent reconstruction work, the basilica was completely rebuilt in a Baroque style by Cosimo Fanzago between 1656 and the 1678. In 1803 the complex was used as a fire station, but the bombings of the Second World War severely affected the religious structure, so much so as to require further restoration completed in 1976.

The appellative "Pietrasanta“, And not Lapis, it was attributed towards 1623 because inside it was kept a stone with an engraved cross on which an image of the Virgin had been placed a few years earlier, which was believed to give indulgence to those who kissed her.

By Andrea Andolfi

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