In the heart of Naples Rione Sanità district, home to the Ancient Necropolis of Neapolis and the birthplace of Totò, stands the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità. If you don’t know this church already, you might have seen its striking green and yellow tiled cupola from Ponte della Sanità, the bridge that straddles Naples Rione Sanità along the road that leads to the Capodimonte Museum. Take the elevator down from that bridge (unfortunately, construction of the bridge cut the church’s cloister in half) and you’ll be just a few steps from the church.
Built in the early 17th century by the Dominicans, this is no Baroque restyling, it’s the real thing. Designed by the Neapolitan architect Frà Giuseppe Nuvolo, his circular plan for the church is one of the earliest known examples of counter reformation architecture. His double spiral staircase leading to the main altar and presbytery, designed to incorporate the 5th Century Chapel and Catacombs of San Gaudioso upon which the church was built.
With works by 17th/18th century masters such as Luca Giordano, Francesco Solimena, and Andrea Vaccaro, Santa Maria della Sanità is home to one of the best collections of Neapolitan art in the city. And in recent years it has seen the addition of works by Riccardo Dalisi and Anna Maria Bova including Dalisi’s La Mensa degli Angeli (2005) work in glass and crystal and Bova’s San Vincenzo as well as the frame she did for the 5th/6th century image of the Madonna and Child that was found in the catacombs and is believed to be the oldest in Naples.