Known for her sexual exploits, Queen Joanna II (1373-1435) was called “The Queen Bee” as well as the vampire or crocodile who ate her lovers after killing them. Another legend says she dumped her lovers in a secret trap door of the Castel Nuovo where they were eaten by crocodiles brought from Africa.
Two hundred years after Joanna II’s death, Princess Anna Carafa inherited the villa and ordered the well-known architect Cosimo Fanzago to renovate it. Many stories were told about Anna’s lavish parties here. In particular, Matilde Serao in her book about the legends of Naples tells that Anna Carafa competed with her niece Mercede de la Torre for the love of another man. One night, the two women had a fight, after which Mercede was never seen again. It is said that Mercede’s ghost haunts the Palazzo Donn’Anna. You can’t enter the building, but you can see its lavish structures crumbling from Via Posillipo.
Cosimo Fanzago never completed renovations of the palace. Instead, Anna’s husband, a Spanish viceroy, had to return to Spain. Anna remained behind, taking up residence in a Portici villa and dying a lonely woman.
Places To See: Castel Capuano where Joanna II lived, Castel Nuovo where Joanna II is said to have thrown her lovers to the crocodiles, and San Giovanni a Carbonara Church that contains the tomb of Joanna II’s lover, the Grand Seneschal Ser Gianni Caracciolo.
Finally, visit Palazzo Donn’Anna on Via Posillipo to see where Joanna II brought her lovers and where later Anna Carafa lived. Across the street, visit the Caffè Donn’Anna to taste the spirit of these odious women.