The Fascinating History of Palazzo Donn’Anna in Naples
There is something about half read history and torn apart structures that miraculously draws me towards them. Strange but true!
However, when I visited Naples I surely wasn’t the only person to think that way! Very few buildings catch the attention of someone like me, who has travelled the world visiting some of the most exquisite structures, as did the palazzo Donn’Anna on Posillipo’s seaside. Not completed by its makers, it is a semi derelict structure but still somehow manages to keep your eyeballs and attention constantly drawn towards itself.
This marvel in Naples has its namesake in Anna Carafa, the wife of, once Viceroy of Naples, Ramiro Guzman. Guzman, who was Spanish, ordered the construction of this amazing structure for his wife as a wedding present (lucky woman, I know!). However, the construction process got all botched up shortly after. When her husband, the viceroy to one of the greatest empires, moved back to Spain it left his wife sobbing with a broken heart. With his move back to his native land, the brain behind the architecture of the building, Cosimo Fanzago, decided to cease the construction of what could have been one of the wonders of the world. Anna died shortly afterwards.
The amazingly grand structure today sits at La Sirena as a huge heap forlorn in history. The place once used to be a well known setting for the scandalous deeds of Queen Joan, and her tales of love making along with the crimes made after passionate love still do the rounds. Some people say that the fickle minded Joan used to push her lovers into the sea after each night of passionate love making! Yes, even I was taken aback with such a claim, but that is the beauty of history and also its wickedness! However, it is not clear, even with the historians, that which queen committed such acts. But the debate did bring the place the necessary mileage that it deserves.
Some historians say that the Joan in the legend refers to the wicked Joan the First who was the daughter of the Duke of Calabria and is infamous for knocking off her husband. Others argue that it has to be Joan II the sister of Ladislao who had a liking for more men than any other royal queen or princess! Well, so say the legends! Although this place is not open to the general public, it is as much of a delight to just read its history. However, some of the places you can visit include Castel Capuano where Joanna II lived, the church of San Giovanni, that also contains the tomb of her lover Seneschal Ser Gianni Caracciolo, and the Castel Nuovo where she used to throw her lovers to the crocodiles.