Giacomo Leopardi (originally from Porto Recanati, in the Marche region), author of some of the greatest masterpieces of Italian literature, stayed in Naples in the final phase of his fragile, yet strong, life. Discover the itinerary to retrace his steps in the famous Neapolitan city.
Naples, a large city with a mild climate
The period in which Giacomo Leopardi arrived in Naples dates back to October 1833, when he was invited by his inseparable friend Antonio Ranieri, to his hometown. Already at the time, Naples was a very populous city, as well as the seat of lively cultural salons, like the main European capitals.
The poet, given the pleasant temperature and the beauty of the landscapes, had high expectations in this regard, unfortunately disregarded in favor of his certain isolation. In one of the autographed letters, in fact, he states that he always feels on fly. What disappointed him was the welcome of the people, who looked at him with distrust, probably also because of the painful back kyphosis that afflicted him from the age of 16.
The first accommodation, a stone’s throw from Via Toledo
Initially, he lived in Via S. Mattia 88, in Palazzo Berio. He lived in a furnished room on the second floor. It seems that he did not trust the landlady, who, when the poet suffered consumption (tuberculosis), complained to Ranieri and invited the two to move elsewhere. This episode is shown in the film “Leopardi”, with Elio Germano.
Palazzo Cammarota, in the Quartieri Spagnoli
The second stop on this itinerary is Palazzo Cammarota, the poet’s residence from December 1833 to May 1835, located in Via Santa Maria Ognibene. To enjoy a broader view of this building, it is also possible to admire it from the Stairs of San Pasquale in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, where on Thursdays, in June, every year since 2012, the poetic review Veduta Leopardi is held, directed by the writer Costanzo Ioni.
The apartment in Capodimonte
Thus, in 1835, the poet moved with his friend Ranieri to Vico Pero n.2, in the Stella district, to an apartment on the second floor, then surrounded by greenery, overlooking Via S. Teresa degli Scalzi. However, it seems that he did not like living so in contact with nature.
The healthy air of Villa delle Ginestre
Over time, the poet’s state of health deteriorated a lot, to the point of having difficulty even reading and writing. When cholera broke out in the city, he, on several occasions (between April and June of ’36 and between August and February of ’37), together with Ranieri, moved to Villa Ferrigni in Torre del Greco, to enjoy the good air, useful for healing dropsy but also, according to the beliefs of the time, to avoid the epidemic.
The villa was nicknamed Villa delle Ginestre because it was here that “La Ginestra” (in English, the broom) was composed, one of his last compositions. It is said that Leopardi used to eat plenty of ice cream during his stay here.
Currently open to visitors, you can admire the desk where the famous poem was composed; it seems that Leopardi occupied the brightest room on the upper floor.
The uncertain causes of death
However, in the Vesuvian countryside, he suffered from the cold and, given the remote location of the villa and the overpriced cost of medical examinations, he could not take advantage of adequate care. For this reason, in February 1937, he returned to the Capodimonte house in Vico Pero 2, where he died of hydropericardia, at the age of 39, on June 1837. It is not said, however, that he did not contract cholera.
The cenotaph at the Vergiliano Park
Ranieri managed to get his friend’s body not to be thrown into the common grave, but to be buried in the church of San Vitale, in Fuorigrotta. In 1939, the alleged remains of Leopardi were moved to the Vergiliano Park of Piedigrotta, next to the cenotaph of the great poet Virgil, better known as the Tomb of Virgil.