Mar 26

Rione Sanità

The Rione Sanità is one of the districts of Naples and is located at the foot of Capodimonte, a few steps from the historic center. It was built in the XVI century as a residential area for noble families. Located in a valley, it was used as a burial place at the time of the Greeks and Romans.

In the district there are some of the most important sites of interest in Naples, for example, the Cimitero delle Fontanelle Cemetery, the Palazzo dello Spagnuolo, and the Catacombs of St Gaudioso.

The first one is an ancient cemetery which includes an unspecified number of remains of people who died during the period of the plague and of the cholera. It is a place full of legends and is particularly known because of the ritual of the “pezzentelle souls”. The Neapolitans, generally women, adopted and took care of a certain skull, called “capuzzella”, of an abandoned soul in exchange for protection: they cleaned the skull and adorned it with embroidered handkerchiefs or pillows, flowers and candles.

The Cemetery is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00. The entrance is free.



The Palazzo dello Spagnuolo is a monumental palace dating back to 1738 and was built by Ferdinando Sanfelice at the behest of the Marquis Nicola Moscati. At the end of 1700s the palace was bought by a nobleman, Tommaso Atienza, known as Lo Spagnolo who carried out some ornamental works that were lost during the restructuring phase.

The building is for private use, but part of it is a museum dedicated to Totò, one of the greatest exponents of Italian cinema and theater. It is located in the famous Borgo dei Vergini, the central square of Rione Sanità and where there is an outdoor market.


In Rione Sanità there are also the Catacombs of St Gennaro, already mentioned in another post of our blog on Naples (“The city of St Gennaro”) and the Catacombs of St Gaudioso. These ones represent a real necropolis and are the second cemetery complex after the Catacombs of S Gennaro. The entrance is located under the main altar of the Basilica of S Maria della Sanità. They take their name from Gaudioso L’Africano, a bishop of Tunisia, who arrived in Naples by chance and was then buried here: it is said that after the invasion of the Vandals, Gaudioso did not want to convert to their religion and for this reason the king embarked him on a ship with other Christians which reached our city. Inside the Catacombs there are early Christian remains, frescoes and burials of the nobles who lived during the XVII century: the skull of the dead was placed in the walls of the ambulacrum and his body frescoed with his clothes and objects that identified his role in society.

The Catacombs of S Gaudioso are open every day from 10:00 to 17:00. They are closed on December 25th.





The district is famous for being the birthplace of Totò.

Some scenes from the television series Gomorra were filmed here.


Where to eat:

–      Poppella: a very famous pastry shop for the so-called “Fiocchi di neve“, that is little cream-filled doughballs covered with powdered sugar.

–      Concettina ai Tre Santi: historic pizzeria in the heart of the district