Cardarelli Hospital: history of the largest hospital in Southern Italy

by Chiara Sarracino

When was theCardarelli Hospital of Naples, the Cangiani hill was little more than a wooded hill rich in pastures. Today it has become the largest hospital in Southern Italy, around which it was built the entire hospital area of the city.

The reason is one: the air of Naples was considered miraculous.

The structure is still today one of the centers of excellence in Southern Italy and, every day, it receives patients from all over the southern regions. In the field of severe burns it is even the best pole in Italy.

Cardarelli Mussolini Hospital
Benito Mussolini looking at the model of the future Cardarelli hospital

An architect between Palermo and Milan

It all began in 1927, the year of the legendary doctor's death Antonio Cardarelli. The New Modern Hospitalit was one of the first works of the fascist administration in Naples, which hired the Sicilian architect Alessandro Rimini, which in reality had few ties with its homeland: it will in fact become one of the most important designers of the Milan of the twentieth century.
The hospital, a colossal structure of 75,000 square meters, was born to solve a huge problem of old Naples: the fragmentation of hospital services, all hidden among alleys and streets that are difficult to reach by emergency services.

In fact, there were numerous hospitals in the historic center (above all the Hospital for the Incurables, still considered the best in town) that still stood up seventeenth-century structures, dated not only in architecture, but also and above all in technologies and spaces. Most modern, recently inaugurated, was what is now known as "Second Polyclinic" a Miraglia square, built at the end of the 19th century at the expense of Roman and Greek finds in the area.

In architectural terms, the hospital was a real revolution: in fact, it took up the concept of "hospital citadels" which was beginning to spread in Europe and which only in the 1960s would have been tested in Italy.

Cardarelli hospital under construction
The Cardarelli Hospital under construction

A strategic position for the Cardarelli Hospital

It was therefore necessary to build a large, modern and above all structure easily accessible from cars, which were now beginning to spread among public services. He identified himself the upper part of the Collina dei Cangiani, behind the village of the same name: it was in fact ideal because it could be reached from anywhere, in an almost uninhabited area characterized by such pure and clean air to be considered itself miraculous. It is no coincidence that the "air of Naples" was recommended as real medicine since the 19th century.
After all, it should be noted that all the great arteries of Rione Alto and Colli Aminei furono built precisely to serve the new hospital: the current one was built from scratch Via Pietro Castellino, named after one of the best scientists of the time, just as the current one was asphalted Via Bernardo Cavallino and Via dello Scudillo, which today is called Viale Colli Aminei. All roads were long, wide and free from private homes, to ensure the rapid passage of ambulances.
No one could have ever imagined the traffic of Viale Colli Aminei in the III Millennium!

In the projects of Fr.regulator of 1939, the neighborhood of the Cangiani it had to become a real one university and medical center.
In the lower part, the current Viale Colli Aminei should have been built the new Faculty of Engineering (a project that will then be done in Fuorigrotta), while above, on the side of Camaldoli, began to be built all modern specialist clinics, from the Monaldi al Pascale. The Polyclinic instead it will come a long time later.

Bernardo Cavallino
Via Bernardo Cavallino

Extremely long jobs

THE works they went enough to slow: the construction site was opened in 1930 and the central building was completed in 1934. 10 years later, the works for the central pavilions were completed It is in the 1942, in the middle of World War II, the structure was inaugurated with the name of "Hospital of 23 March", in honor of the foundation of the combat beams. This date, devoid of direct references to fascism and therefore spared by mistake from post-war restructuring, remained until recently in a small plaque inside the entrance hall of the headquarters.

This name will last very little: the 19 August 1943, before the armistice, it was decided to change the name naming it after Antonio Cardarelli.
To see the structure as we know it today, however, we will have to wait another 50 years: the last pavilion, that of emergencies, was inaugurated in 1990 in the presence of even Pope John Paul II.

-Chiara Sarracino

Italo Ferraro, Naples. Atlas of the historic city (Vomero and hilly area), Oikos Edizioni, Naples, 2014
Corrado Beguinot, University hospitals and clinics, Fausto Fiorentino Editore, Naples, 1961
Hospital of national importance | Cardarelli (

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