The Rione Sanità, suspended between two worlds

by Beatrice Morra

The health district. A story of life and death

Where today stands the Health District, in the Greco-Roman era there was a valley used as a burial place.

Over the centuries, however, the stifling breath of death has not remained in the streets of the district, but its most enchanting and fascinating imprint. Between the earth that we tread every day in the chatter of the market and another world - which gathers our hopes and fears in its mystery - there is here, very strong, a underground connection.

And we do not use this word by chance, speaking of the Rione Sanità. In fact, for the whole extension of the district, that is between Piazza dei Vergini and the hospital of San Gennaro dei Poveri infinite underground treasures are collected.

The Fontanelle Cemetery e San Gaudioso, the catacombs of San Severo e the Serino aqueduct (discovered in the foundations of Palazzo Peschici Maresca, in turn built over a necropolis from the Greek era), are only a small part of the underground system of hypogea, catacombs and cemeteries that extends under the streets that we travel every day.

AND on those streets instead?

The Palazzo dello Spagnolo, for example, is familiar in its splendid structure to all Neapolitans, with the main double flight staircase that constitutes the internal facade of the building; and, virtually even “higher up”, beyond the buildings, the Bridge of Health, today dedicated to the partisan Maddalena Cerasuolo.

Because the Rione Sanità is truly suspended between several worlds; and yet its treasures are not only underground memories of the past, or architectural testimonies of past centuries; The District is also - perhaps, above all - made up of the people who populate it and live it every day.

Among iconic buildings, such as Palazzo dello Spagnolo, or Sanfelice Palace, between contemporary street art and religious brotherhoods, there is a reality that vibrates with life; a reality to which perhaps it would be worth paying attention, stopping to listen.

In recent years, the work of Don Antonio Loffredo, pastor of the basilica of S. Maria della Sanità, had a key role in the redemption of the neighborhood; bringing the younger generations closer to culture and the enhancement of cultural heritage, dignity and beauty are being restored to the Rione Sanità day after day.

On the #iorestoinsala platform, a documentary film will be available on January 18-19-20 that will tell this story: "Health District. The certainty of dreams".

It is a work that testifies to the rebirth of the neighborhood from a social, cultural and economic point of view; and at the same time it is an operation to relaunch and support cinemas in such difficult moments.

Because yes, in the Rione Sanità there are many treasures: not only hypogea and churches, but also women and men; people who, as Don Antonio says, "more than being convinced they love to be moved".

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