Salita Moiariello, the place where you touch Naples with a finger

by Federico Quagliuolo

The Moiariello, is one of the less known panoramic points of Naples and, precisely for this reason, precious and special like few. It was once known as the Hill ofAstronomical Observatory, but also as “The hill of Domenico Cotugno“.

It is a climb that is located on the highest point of the Miradois hill, another now uncommon name in the Neapolitan toponymy. We are actually right behind Capodimonte.

A Spanish story: Miradois and Moiariello

Many believe that this name is a distortion of the Spanish "Aim for Todos" born in the 16th century because, the historian Gaetano Nobile said, "from the Miradois hill you can see all of Naples without any disturbance. There is nothing here at all“.
Actually the name comes from the Marquis Miradois, who bought these abandoned lands during the period of the viceroys. It was the regent of the Grand Court of the Vicariate, which was the court of Naples for civil and criminal cases. It practically was one of the most powerful men of the Viceroyalty.
In his day the Wood of Capodimonte did not yet exist and the whole hilly area of Naples was one mixture of woods and countryside.

Nothing about the hill's agricultural past exists, except the names of the two climbs that lead from the Sanità to the heights: Ascent Miradois and Salita Moiariello.

The latter name comes from diminutive of "Moio" or "bushel", which was an ancient agricultural unit of measure. The bushel is equivalent to one third of a hectare and probably the toponym referred to a very small arable land.

This was precisely the land where it once stood the villa of the Marquis Miradois. The idea of building an astronomical observatory in these parts came to Joseph Bonaparte, inaugurating the Specola di San Gaudioso at Salita Capodimonte. Then, thanks to Joachim Murat, work began on the first astronomical observatory of the Kingdom of Naples in the place where it is still located today.
After the restoration and the return of the Bourbons to Naples, Ferdinand I he was very fascinated by the project and decided to allocate further funding for the completion of the work, then a statue of Urania which crowns Ferdinand I.

Torre del Palasciano Naples Capodimonte
The Torre del Palasciano

The Hill of Scientists

The entire Moiariello belonged to generations of Neapolitan doctors and scientists and, even today, both the names of the streets and the neighboring buildings recall some of the most famous characters in our history.

The entire area of the Sanità that starts from Via Foria and arrives at Salita Miradois, in fact, was intended for the development of sciences, from the Astronomical Observatory to the nearby one Salita Cinesi, intended for the study of oriental languages and sciences.

In fact, a few meters from the Observatory there is the Palasciano Tower, which is probably one of the most scenic spots in Naples. It's a Neapolitan copy of the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence and was built by the doctor Ferdinando Palasciano, who was one of the fathers of the Red Cross.
The palace was meant to be a tribute to his wife, Olga Von Vavilow. The two met in fact in Florence and, in 1868, the doctor in love he decided to build his residence on the edge of the city.
The only one problem is that in his time, at the end of the 19th century, the road was very dangerous and infested with thieves and his wife, a noblewoman of Russian descent, did not like the area. Indeed, she was very worried about the risks her husband ran in returning home and every evening he looked out from the tower to watch the carriage as it went up the Capodimonte road.
Today, however, legend has it that Palasciano himself, or at least his own ghost, you continue to look out every evening at sunset because, even after death, you do not want to give up panorama that can be seen from there.

Santa Maria delle Grazie al Moiariello
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Moiariello, photo copyright: Facebook page.

The little church of the Templars

Next to the Palasciano tower there is "Cotugno Chapel“, Which makes us discover another detail about the origins of this place.

Before the arrival of Palasciano, in fact, all the land belonged to the legendary Domenico Cotugno, which was considered a of magician in the field of medicine.
In his memory there remains only a small chapel from 1741, which is officially called Santa Maria delle Grazie al Moiariello, but which later took the name

Unfortunately it was completely plundered by some displaced people of the 1980 earthquake, as some families were placed right in an adjacent building. Some vandals decided to destroy the church, which at the time was abandoned and, for this reason, we have lost the 18th century paintings and majolica. It has recently been restored by the Catholic Templar Knights, which now still keep it under management, albeit unfortunately much of its beauty has gone away forever.

A little curiosity: the same street where the small village of Moiariello is located is called “Via Ottavio Morisani“, Which recalls an illustrious gynecologist of the late 19th century.
Just like the illustrious Friedrich Dehnhardt and the fireman Francesco Del Giudice, he was one of the few Bourbon leaders who remained in his post after the unification of Italy. His value was undisputed, so much so that he held the professorship until 1907, when he was practically almost 80 years old.

From the Irolli Moiariello picture terraces
“From the Terraces”, painting by Vincenzo Irolli. It was painted at the height of the Moiariello

The view from Moiariello

Just pass the first corner of Ottavio Morisani to be amazed.
Some residents jokingly call Salita Moiariello "the Posillipo of the poor”, Even if this panorama is still in some places more intense and original than Posillipo, being exactly at center of the ancient city. The Business Center is perfectly aligned with Vesuvius and disappears in the immense carpet of ancient buildings, among which theHotel of the Poor. It is a breathtaking view.

The road continues in one way diving between the buildings, as if it were a real descent below the cement and tuff of Naples. Door inside the Health, on the side that emerges from the parts of Via Foria
The maze of roads that awaits the visitors who descend from the Moiariello climb makes it clear how much it was complicated arrive on the Neapolitan hills before Bridge of Health. It is, moreover of the only road still active, in addition to Salita Miradois means, which connects us with the hilly area of Naples.

The route ends at Via Giuseppe Piazzi, which was named after a Neapolitan astronomer and is the seat of the Babuk garden, which is another timeless place.

The virtual walk begins on the top of a hill that has taken the name of a magistrate and ends in a street dedicated to a scientist. In Naples everything comes back, even in the names of the streets.

-Federico Quagliuolo


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