Ossuaries & Charnels

Naples, Italy Fontanelle Cemetery

Naples, Italy Fontanelle Cemetery

Naples, Italy Fontanelle Cemetery

If I could choose one site to continually return to and photograph it would probably be the Fontanelle, because I think you can find something new each and every time you are there. The anecdotal material–the legends and superstitions–are also more rich here than anywhere else. A good portion of Chapter Four of the book revolves around the Fontanelle, and I would also refer interested parties to the article I wrote on the site for the Fortean Times a few years back. I have no idea if the site is currently open for visitors; when Thames and Hudson asked me to compile as an appendix to the book a roster which would include visitor information for the sites in question, my biggest hesitation was being responsible for trying to figure what the current status of the Fontanelle is, or even worse guess what it might be in the future. My editor mentioned, as if it were simple enough, that according to one of the city’s websites, it was now open to the public–that she would take such a notice seriously only proved to me that she had never spent much time in Naples. The Fontanelle was also supposedly open to the public when I went to take my photos, but it certainly was not, and had not been for years. I had to make a special arrangement with a city inspector to gain entrance. Making such an arrangement was not an easy thing to do (this was in 2008), and required considerable influence–the inspector said that the last person who he brought in was Isabella Rossellini, and before her he had not brought anyone in for a very long time. The popular fascination with the site for locals is still quite high. When the inspector opened the gate, he told me to “go in, quickly, before they swarm.” Swarm?–indeed, within moments of seeing the gate slide, people had started to gather and head for the entrance. In any event, if you happen to be in Naples and the site is either open or you can find some way to gain admittance, by all means go, and try to find a guide steeped in local superstitions and ghost stories.
Bookmark the permalink.