Domenico Fontana

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Piazza Del Plebiscito – Naples

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Piazza del Plebiscito is Naples’ most important square. The construction was planned by Joachim Murat King of Naples during the Bonaparte dominion. The semicircular plaza was meant to be dedicated to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte; however the French were defeat before the piazza was finished. When Ferdinand I regain is throne he decided to continue with the construction, though he converted one of the buildings in a church dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola, a saint who lived in a monastery situated in the same spot few centuries before.

Things to see

The plaza is located near the stunning Gulf of Naples and it was named after the plebiscite that unified Naples with the newly born Kingdom of Italy in 1863. In the east side of the square is situated the beautiful Royal Palace built by Domenico Fontana. On the west side right in front of the Church of St. Francis da Paola stand two equestrian statues, one represent King Ferdinand I and the second one King Charles III.

Piazza del Plebiscito hosted many times unique open-air concerts.

Borgo Santa Lucia – Naples

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Borgo Santa Lucia is a historical coastal neighborhood of Naples dating back to the 9th century. Its inception is actually much older, to when the Roman general and politician Lucius Lucullus moved to the area in the 1st century BCE, building himself an impressive villa. It was so massive that remains of it can be found throughout several sections of Naples.

This villa was converted into a monastery during the early medieval period. The legend says that while Saint Patricia was traveling to reach the Holy Land she stopped in Naples and decided to stay here founding a sanctuary. Later the Basilian Monks settled where once was located the Roman Villa. During the 12th century in order to guard the gulf the monastery became a fortress.

The area changed totally during the 16th century. The Spanish Viceroys hired the famous architect Domenico Fontana in order to transform what once was a simple fishermen’s village into one of the most important areas of Naples.

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During the first half of the 19th century the level of the sea started to rose; unfortunately the Sanctuary was bury and a new one was constructed on the same spot. Few years later when the entire Kingdom of Naples was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy the all area was heavily remodeled.

Today Borgo Santa Lucia is very popular among the tourists and Neapolitans. Visitors can enjoy a stunning view of the bay from a table in one of the many restaurant and cafes of the area.

Royal Palace – Naples

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Located in the heart of Naples is the Royal Palace, a grand structure that was once the residence of the Bourbon Kings. It faces the Piazza del Plebiscito and shares the space with two other palaces, Palazzo della Prefettura and Palazzo Salerno, as well as the impressive Basilica di san Francesco di Paola.

Built in the early 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana, it was intended to host King Philip III of Spain on his visit of the kingdom but he never arrived in Naples so instead, it became the residence of Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro. Over the years, the interior was lavishly decorated with frescoes by various masters then, following the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples in 1734, several artists remodeled and expanded the palace. A small theatre and a new wing were added in the later 18th century, while a belvedere and an additional wing were added during the mid 19thcentury.

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In the 1920s, it was decreed that the collection of the National Library be transferred to the palace. Unfortunately, the palace suffered considerable damage from bombs during World War II, requiring extensive renovations to the structure and interiors. Today, the Royal Palace hosts the famed Royal Theatre of Saint Charles, the National Library collection, a museum, and several offices.

Church of San Luigi dei Francesi – Rome

Rome - St Luigi dei Francesi - interior
Rome - St Luigi dei Francesi - facadeRome - St Luigi dei Francesi - domeRome - St Luigi dei Francesi - ceiling

A quick walk from Piazza Navona will bring you to visit the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, France’s national church in Rome.

In 898 The Abbey of Farfa was burned down during a Saracen invasion; the monks escaped and settled in Rome. Here they built a church dedicated to St. Mary. In 1480 the property became part of the Medici’s estate. They commissioned the construction of a new church and changed the name in Saint Louis of the French. It was designed by Giacomo Della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana during the 16th century.

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis and St. Louis IX, king of France.

For years the higher prelates and members of the French community of Rome were buried here.

Things to see

Designing the church’s exterior Della Porta used a method that later was much copied: the façade decoration is completely independent from the rest of the building.

Walking inside the church it is possible to admire Domenichino’s masterpieces: a series of frescoes representing the Histories of Saint Cecilia.

However St. Louis of the French is mostly famous for the cycle of paintings dedicated to St. Matthew’s life by the Baroque genius Caravaggio. Visitors from all around the world come here to contemplate the famous canvases of The Calling of St Matthew, The inspiration of St Matthew and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew.