The yellow of the Salone Margherita in Naples

by Mariano Cervone

Born on the model of the most famous Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergère, the Margherita room had the flavor of forbidden things, starting with that secluded, almost hidden entrance, which is accessed by a marble staircase under the Umberto I Gallery.

Owner since 1891 Giuseppe Marino, director of the Banco di Napoli. This local historian was in fact born from an idea of the Marino brothers, who looked with interest to cafe-chantant Parisians who were very successful in the old continent. In this place, as in the European counterparts, you could eat and drink while attending shows and songs.

Il giallo del Salone Margherita a Napoli

Famous people of the time

It was in the Salone Margherita that the Sciantose how Amelia Faraone, while the dancers uncovered legs and knickers performing in the scandalous cancan.

Theater, it should be said, of the Belle époque Neapolitan, artists such as Raffaele Viviani e Ettore Petrolini.

Salone Margherita manifesto
Salone Margherita, poster

Salone Margherita, a 2 lire entrance

An entrance ticket of 2 lire it included a first drink chosen from over fifty house specialties. With the addition of a little extra you could even drink the very expensive champagne Veuve Cliquot. All declined in one version parisienne, including the posters of the shows which were written strictly in French, to experience thatallure so trendy francophone.

Salone Margherita foto d'epoca
Salone Margherita, vintage photos

A tribute to Queen Margherita of Savoy

As for the most common Neapolitan pizza, even the name, Margherita room, it was a tribute to that Queen of Savoy, own consort of Umberto I, to which the gallery in which it is located is dedicated.

Matilde Serao he had taken part in the opening of the restaurant, and with the pseudonym of Gibus he described the environment on the Courier of Naples:

«The room, rich in the paintings of Risi, with a happy tone of color and decoration, has a very pleasant air of good taste; the many sympathetic female figures that cover the vault, the work of a brave but modest artist, are full of an attractive modernity and this is one of their main qualities. Well lit, spacious to accommodate better than eight hundred people down in the stalls and in the boxes, the Salone Margherita is one of those that remain constantly crowded ».

Matilde SeraoGibus

Yet this was not the case. On the morning of 11 August 1905 the Salone Margherita, a place of cheerfulness and lightheartedness, carried a sign that greatly disturbed the community that frequented it, "closed for mourning".

The day before, in room number 9 of the pension Mascot, the sculptor Filippo Cifariello he had murdered in Posillipo his wife Maria De Browne, dancer of the Salone known by the stage name of Blanche De Mercy.

As in a detective story by Maurizio de Giovanni

Five gunshots, as he had told at the time sciuscià of the hotel, Alfonso Fratellini, who found the lifeless body of the beauty chanteuse.

A crime that seems almost straight out of the pages of a novel by Maurizio de Giovanni, and that brings us back to the dark atmospheres of the detective stories of his Commissioner Ricciardi.

The artist and the dancer would have lived in alternating phases a boiling passion that however resulted in a marriage. To quell her husband's jealousy, Maria retired from the stage. A painful choice, which was followed by resentment and hatred, which led the woman to blame the conditions of misery in which she was forced to live alongside the artist.

The man even worked at night to ensure a standard of living that lived up to De Browne's expectations. But that wasn't enough. Maria thus returned to tread the stage, and to betray Cifariello with admirers and suitors who showered her with gifts and attention. Many of his lovers, including a young disciple of him.

The fatal encounter at the inauguration of an equestrian statue

Temporary stories, which Maria managed to cover up by alleging the slander of people who wanted to undermine the happiness of their marriage. But everything changes when La Sciantosa meets the lawyer Leonardo Soria, during the inauguration of one equestrian statue made by her husband.

This was the beginning of the end, and of a story born as an affair that led Maria to want to separate from her husband and start a new life with Soria. The woman confessed her intentions to Philip who, consumed by jealousy, drew his gun and killed her.

«Maria, Maria! Now that you are dead I love you more than before ... »the man would have said in a madness, to the dismay of waiters and policemen who rushed to that tragic story.

The tragedy of another sciantosa and the closure

A few years later the tragedy of another slender girl, Ester Bijou, finally brought down the curtain on the Salone Margherita. Today it local historian it is open for events and receptions. The licentious light-heartedness of that stage seemed to vanish at the sound of the guns of the war in Libya and the Salone was forced to close its doors and with them the charm of a Belle époque destined to become nostalgia forever.


The strangest places and stories of Naples, Marco Perillo

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