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Legends and fantasy stories

Fantasy stories, legends, and tales of mysterious characters take pride of place in popular Neapolitan culture.
We begin with the legend of Donn'Albina, Donna Romita and Donna Regina, and then move on to people like Maria d'Avalos and Donn'Anna Carafa, not forgetting the stories associated with the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore on our way, before finishing with the munaciello and the bella 'Mbriana.

Donn'Albina, Donna Romita e Donna Regina

There is a legend which is wonderfully recounted by Matilde Serao in her book Neapolitan Legends and which still echoes around the gardens of the convents in Naples. The protagonists are three sisters: Donn'Albina, Donna Romita and Donna Regina, the daughters of Baron Toraldo, a nobleman from the Sedile del Nilo. The story goes that when the girls lost their mother, Donna Gaetana Scauro, at an early age, the Baron was granted special permission by Robert of Anjou for his oldest daughter, Donna Regina, to keep her own surname once she got married so the family name would not be lost. The Baron died in 1320, leaving three daughters behind...


San Lorenzo Maggiore

San Lorenzo Maggiore is one of the oldest churches in Naples. It stands between Via Tribunali and Via San Gregorio Armeno, in the heart of the Greco-roman city. The still visible layers of history within the church's structure provide ample testimony to the importance of the whole area over the centuries. The Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore is considered one of the most interesting examples of gothic architecture in Naples, even though the Angevin structure was built on top of a pre-existing religious building dating back to V or VI century A.D...

hooded ghost with no face

The Convent of Sant'Arcangelo at Baiano

The Church of Sant'Arcangelo at Baiano was one of the first structures the Angevins wanted built to consecrate their victory over the Swabians. It was built on the site of a pre-existing religious building dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo, this in turn being erected on a previous pagan shrine. The addition "at Baiano" comes from the old name given to the area because a colony of citizens from Baia lived there...

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Ghost stories: Maria d'Avalos

It was in May of the year 1586, when Naples was ruled by the Spanish, that Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, celebrated his marriage to his cousin, Maria d'Avalos d'Aragona, in the church of San Domenico Maggiore. It was fairly commonplace amongst the aristocracy to marry someone from within the family to ensure that the family wealth was increased rather than divided. It was certainly not a marriage of love but a union designed to produce the right heir to continue the lineage so the title and its accompanying wealth would not be lost and returned to the Papacy...

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Ghost stories: Donn'Anna Carafa

Palazzo Donn'Anna was built in XVI century. It is a large building which stands on the sea in Posillipo. One of its first owners was Dragonetto Bonifacio, then the Ravaschieri took it over, and then in 1571 Luigi Carafa di Stigliano bought it. One of the descendants of the Carafa family, Antonio, married Elena Aldobrandini, one of Clemente VIII's granddaughters, and they had three children: Giuseppe, Onofrio and Anna. Born in November, 1607, Anna lost both her father and her brothers within a very short space of time and had only her mother and grandparents left...

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The munaciello and the Bella 'Mbriana

The munaciello (in Neapolitan this means "little monk") is the esoteric person best known, most feared and most often named by the Neapolitans: a bizarre spirit who always behaves in an unpredictable way and who is the source of infinite urban legends and popular sayings. His disrespectful behaviour is often accompanied by benevolent "bequests" of money; but nobody must be told what has happened, otherwise he will set himself against the beneficiary. It is not rare for him to behave lasciviously towards pretty young women...

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