In the heart of Naples along the decumanus, lies one of the oldest churches in the city dedicated to Our Lady. 
Its the church of S. Maria Maggiore to Pietrasanta. 

According to tradition, should be kept inside the building a sacred stone on which was the image of the Virgin. Formerly, the indulgence was granted to anyone who kissed that stone.
The church of Pietrasanta arose in the sixth century A.D., as a Christian basilica, is built on the remains of what must be a place of worship dedicated to the goddess Diana.

The special structure of red brick and the arch, is incorporated onto many original architectural elements belonging to the temple of Diana; including columns, capitals and also an old board. 

Thanks to the work of a group of Neapolitan cavers archaeologists, in the basement of the church (where is an ancient aqueduct) were found symbols attributed to the famous Order of Knights Templar. 

A series of crosses engraved on the walls,  at 35 m. depth from the road surface.
Down there is the Greek and Roman Neapolis, swallowed up by the arrival of christianity.
We get there through a narrow winding path, going from the church of Pietrasanta to the Prince of San Severo’s Palace.

Archaeologists, however, are keen to point out that, about the presence of the Templars, there are only conjectures.

One of these is the following: Pietrasanta's church was built on the plant of the Roman Temple of Diana, in turn, rose on the Greek temple of Isis, the goddess (of Egyptian origin) depicted with black skin.
According to some people the "Black Madonna", venerated by the Templars, was precisely the Christian transposition of Isis’ cult.

True or not they are the legends, we have to walk through this fascinating path, to see with our eyes and understand what it is. 

Starting from Pietrasanta, in the Courts street, we go down between crypts, cliffs and ancient cisterns, to discover the antique city.

Along the walls of the aqueduct can be seen a series of crosses called "ricrociate" or "enhanced": crosses with other carved crosses at the ends (attributed to the Knights Templar). 

Attention. On the walls of tunnels and caves of Naples, in all parts of the city, it's easy to find cruciform engravings (and not only), like the signs of "identity" found in the quarry of  Greek Poggioreale visible on the walls, which probably represent real trademarks, in order to facilitate the award of compensation to the builders. 

Our path winds for hundreds of meters down to the basement of the palace of Prince of San Severo.
Here lived and worked Raimondo di Sangro, a noble artist and scientist of ‘700, author of controversial studies about alchemy.

The San Severo Chapel (on which other legends are tell), which houses works of art and the strange embalmed bodies made by the Prince, worth a visit itself.

Continuing on the path, the tunnel is made ​​straight and goes back toward the church, stopping under the Cemeterium where, once, were prepared the bodies of the dead before burial. 

Here the mystery deepens and enriches further conjectures. 

In the crypt of Pietrasanta, a marble tomb was brought to light a sixteenth inscription , which refers of a German scientist with a passion for alchemy. 

Above the marble is engraved a skull and crossbones, the classic icon of pirates, but also an emblem of the Templars (and a Masonic symbol!).

Where does the truth lies?
Find out for you. Find out yourself.


This is the ancient recipe of a famous liqueur made ​​from walnuts (in Italy named noci).
A special liqueur, by magical properties.
According to tradition, the hulls of walnut (those used for liquor) must be taken on the night of June 24.
It was said that the dew of the night had such powers to cure all ills... 

The origin of the cult of the walnut as a "witch tree" is Celtic: in Britain were prepared potions using unripe nuts.

Is there a scientific reason why everything happens on the night of St. John.
According to herbalists this period is called "balsamic time" in which the nut is in its moment of maximum fragrance, thanks to the greater presence of sap, oils and vitamins.
Fascinating is also the view that attributes the origin of the old date of summer solstice in the calendar preceding the Gregorian calendar, which was on June 24 (instead of 21, as now),  right the day of Saint John (his devotees were right the Knights Templar).
The walnut is considered a digestive liqueur rich with spices and essential oils contained in the husk.

Here's the original recipe, as it has been handed down from father to son.

Go to the foot of a walnut tree at night of June 24 and grab 24 unripe nuts.
The nuts should be collected by female hands.

Prepare the ingredients:
In addition to 24 small and unripe nuts, should prepared 1/2 liter of alcohol at 95 degrees, 2/5 of a liter of water, 600 grams of sugar, some cloves, a cinnamon stick and , if you will, a Sorrento lemon zest.

Cut the nuts in 4 parts and put them in alcohol, in a glass vase.
Close it and left to macerate for a night.
Then open the vase and add the cloves and cinnamon (and lemon zest eventually).
Close hermetically and let soak for 48 days, shaking the jar at least once a day.
After 48 days, male heat water in a pot, into which melt also sugar.
Wait ‘till the syrup is cold then mix it to filtered alcohol.
Bottles the liquor and patiently wait another 48 days.

Now that days has passed (it’s almost Halloween time), sit in a chair sipping a glass of this very special booze.


Mr Wright said...

Thank you for the insight into this wonderful city. I will surely try and find the liquor nocino.

Connie said...

Thanks dear friend....and don't forget to taste some "babbĂ " and "sfogliatelle". Delicious sweets! :-)

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Well, I really like Italy because I visited there most of the times especially in Venice, Florence and Rome etc. I think this is the best post I have ever seen great collections of historic pictures of Italian culture.

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Connie Romano said...

thanks !

Mark Martin said...

Hello! Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Naples Italy tours. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about Naples Italy tours.
Culinarily, the city is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city. Neapolitan music has furthermore been highly influential, credited with the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin, as well as notable contributions to opera and folk standards. Popular characters and historical figures who have come to symbolise the city include Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, the comic figure Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the Greek epic poem the Odyssey.
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