Ipogeo dei Cristallini of Napoli

A DISTRICT OF
A THOUSAND CONTRASTS AND COLORS

Sanità district

A city within a city. The Sanità district is one of the most evocative places in Naples, where contrasts, colors, art, music, history coexist, where life and death coexist over the centuries and where, in recent years, the desire for rebirth has given the courage to change reality and strength for a new life.

Its contradictions, the beauty of a thousand colors, the spontaneity of its community, the coexistence between great socio-cultural differences and enormous resources make the Rione Sanità one of the liveliest and full of contradictions in the historic center of Naples, conquering over the years a highly representative identity of the entire city.

Located in the area north of the viceregal walls of Naples (precisely north of Borgo dei Vergini up to the foot of the Capodimonte hill), the district extends from piazza Vergini and includes the area of via Sanità, Piazza Sanità, up to area of the San Gennaro Hospital known as the Poor, developing along the streets that led to the ancient Christian cemeteries.

The millennial history of the Sanità district

Since its origins it has been a sacred and burial place, from the Greek hypogea to the christian catacombs, such as those of San GennaroSan Gaudioso, and San Severo, founding that indissoluble bond between man and death that has consolidated over the centuries, as evidenced by the Fontanelle cemetery, built to house the victims of the great plague of 1656.

The name of the Rione Sanità, on the other hand, is explained through two hypotheses. The first refers to the healthiness of the place, since the area was full of woods and water sources; another refers to alleged miracles that occurred here due to the prayers addressed to the dead in the various cemeteries of the neighborhood.

The district developed urbanistically from the seventeenth century, starting with the construction of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Sanità, becoming the area chosen by nobles and wealthy Neapolitan bourgeois for their homes, such as palazzo San Felice e palazzo dello Spagnolo which still today constitute some of the main architectural excellences of the area.

In the 18th century, its streets became the royal family’s route from the city center to the Capodimonte Palace.

At the beginning of the 19th century the district was cut off from the city when the Corso Napoleone and the Ponte della Sanità were built at the behest of Giuseppe Bonaparte and then Gioacchino Murat, which would have facilitated the connections but which would have necessarily been the cause of the neighborhood isolation.

Piazza del Ponte della Sanita a Napoli
Il mercato del quartiere Sanità a Napoli
Il Quartiere Sanita di Napoli

The Rione Sanità today and the desire for rebirth

Over the years, Healthcare has become a sort of “suburb in the center of the city”, with various social and economic problems, however the desire for rebirth has drawn strength from the growing awareness of the historical and cultural riches of the neighborhood.

Since 2000, the arrival of the new parish priest of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità, Father Antonio Loffredo, has marked the beginning of a process of redevelopment and enhancement of the historical, artistic and human heritage of the neighborhood.

Some voluntary, cultural and social associations already active in the district have established themselves in the network, promoting the socio-economic growth of the territory, to build better living conditions, stimulating civic sense, creating development opportunities and offering concrete opportunities for social redemption for the inhabitants of the neighborhood.

A new life therefore for the entire Rione Sanità.

From the Nuovo Teatro Sanità with its productions that tour in the best Italian theaters, to the Orchestra giovanile Sanitansamble which gave many young people the opportunity to continue their studies at the conservatory; from after-school and play areas for children to new sports venues and new creative and artistic spaces such as the laboratory in the Church of the Misericordiella brought to light thanks to the work of the Neapolitan artist Christian Leperino. And yet the birth and the great commitment of the Cooperativa La Paranza which carries out an enlightened management of the Catacomb of San Gaudioso, in the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità and the Catacombs of San Gennaro, bringing to light a millenary history that lives in the subsoil of Naples. (or offering a journey to discover the close bond of faith between the city and its patron). These are just some of the realities created to promote local development, recover and enhance the cultural heritage and the many talents present in the area.

Today over 30 non-profit organizations (cooperatives, associations, parish groups etc.) work in the Rione Sanità, including Fondazione Alessandro Pavesi,  which propose themselves as a new model of social, healthy, supportive and sustainable entrepreneurship, investing in education and in the training of young people, making available to them many spaces and a wonderful artistic heritage.