The noble Chiaia neighborhood

Published in Discover Naples
06 September 2017

Discovering the aristocratic buildings of the district chosen by the 16th century aristocracy as their summer residences. Among hidden gardens, liberty style buildings, and illustrious guests

Welcome to Chiaia, one of the most elegant neighborhoods of the city, born in the 15th century as a small village outside the city walls and chosen by noble families for their summer residences near the sea. There are so many noble palaces that for their history and architecture are worth visiting!

Let’s start from Riviera di Chiaia, the most coastal strip in the neighborhood. Near Piazza Vittoria, on street number 281, stands Palazzo Caracciolo di San Teodoro, erected in the XIX century by architect Guglielmo Bechi. Inserted into the circuit of historical homes promoted by the Italian Environment Fund, it is one of the most important places for art and culture in the city. It features a characteristic Pompeian red facade and preserves intact interior environments, with neoclassical decorations and Pompeian frescoes, in line with the aristocratic fashion of the time. The furnishings testify to the magnificence of the craftsmen who served the Bourbons at the end of the eighteenth century.

On street number 287 of Riviera di Chiaia, stands Palazzo Ravaschieri Satriano, dating back to 1605. It was one of the first buildings to be built in the area and also where the great literate Goethe stayed for a period of time.

Moving towards the inner area, on Via Calabritto, on street number 20, we find Palazzo Calabritto, which belonged to Vincenzo Tuttavilla, Duke of Calabritto. It is said that, while under construction, king Charles III of Bourbon fell in love with it, and bought it for 34.700 ducats. Being a pure whim, the kingdid not bother finishing the construction until, in 1754, the Tuttavilla family managed to buy it back, returning the amount paid by the king. Renovated by architect Luigi Vanvitelli, it features a staircase that leads to a terrace overlooking the Gulf. Gioacchino Murat also lived in the palace.

In Piazza dei Martiri, number 58, you can find Palazzo Partanna. Built in the first half of the 17th century, it passed through several owners and renovations, even King Ferdinand IV, who donated it to his wife Lucia Migliaccio, widow of Prince Partanna who he married in 1814, as a wedding gift. Since 1930 it is the office of the Industrial Union of Naples.

A small detour on Via Chiaia leads us to Palazzo Cellamare (number 139), built in the 15th century. It features four beautifully frescoed rooms. It has had many owners until it reached the Caracciolo family, who rented it to the prince of Francavilla Michele Imperiali, who became famous for the magnificent parties he organized which Giacomo Casanova also took part in. In 1782 the palace was rented by the Bourbons who hosted, among others, Angelica Kaufmann, Hackert and Goethe. The portal, in lava stone, was made by the architect Ferdinando Fuga. It also has a wonderful large back garden completely hidden.

Let's go back to Largo Ferrandina, Via dei Mille and via San Pasquale in Chiaia, where Palazzo Caracciolo di Torella rises. Built in the 18th century, it once contained an interesting library rich in important works on the city of Naples. It belonged to Giuseppe Caracciolo, prince of Torella. The family's decay also reflected on the home, which today is a condominium.

Located in San Pasquale aChiaia, 48, Palazzo Acquaviva Coppola, is the first Liberty-style building in the city. Inside the building you can access the small San Carluccio Theater.

Returning to Riviera di Chiaia, number 4 of Rione Sirignano, we find Palazzo Caravita di Sirignano, the first building to be erected along the Riviera. It was founded in the sixteenth century, by will of marchese della Valle don Ferdinando Alarçon. After several ownership changes, in 1838 it was purchased by Prince Leopoldo delle Due Sicilie, Count of Syracuse, who completely remodeled it. Attached to the property there were, then, about fourteen thousand square meters of park, inside which a small theater was built where the Count organized plays and performances. At the end of the 19th century itwas passed on to Prince Giuseppe Caravita of Sirignano, who partitioned the large park to build huge buildings.

Chiaia is also a district rich in art, starting with the many art galleries present in the area. But, above all, it is on Via dei Mille, number 60, where the Pan, Palace of the Arts of Naples, stands, in the historic Palazzo Carafa di Roccella. The Carafa family used it for a long time as a secondary residence, using as their main home, the one on via Trinità Maggiore. Today the Pan is owned by the City of Naples, which has transformed it into a museum site. It has over 6,000 square meters of exhibition space on three levels, hosting contemporary art exhibitions, including photography, cinema, sculpture, comics,design and architecture. In addition to this there is an experimental art laboratory, a media library, an archive, and a café-library.

On the Riviera di Chiaia (number 200) we also find Villa Pignatelli which hosts the Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes Museum, among the very few examples of a house-museum in Naples. It includes the villa with the historic apartment on the ground floor and in some rooms on the first floor, the environments dedicated to the House of Photography, the Carrozze Museum on the ground floor of the Palazzina Rothschild and the majestic garden.

The construction of the villa was commissioned by Admiral Ferdinando Acton in 1826. At his death, in 1841, the house was sold to the German Jewish banker Carl Mayer von Rothschild, who had established a branch in Naples in 1821.On the first floorremainsa monogram CR dedicated to the banker.

After the decline of Rothschild's activity in the city, the villa was used by the Jewish community as an oratory until 1867, when it was sold to Prince Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, who built, in the park, picturesque and historicist buildings such as the Swiss Chalet and the Neogothic Tower. After several events, in 1952, Princess Rosina left the Villa to the State, providing that "no object could be removed to become part of other collections”.