Talking about Naples, it is impossible not to think of Totò, alias Antonio de Curtis, who was born and lived in the Neapolitan city for twenty-four years.
Naples and the Rione Sanità saw Totò from an early age until his first steps in the world of art. His fellow citizens have never turned their backs on him, often taking the opportunity to remember him and pay homage to him. Totò still lives in Naples through the pieces dedicated to him.
Let’s start our walking tour with Totò
Leaving the metro at Piazza Cavour, let’s take a look at the magnificent structure of the Naples National Archaeological Museum on our right and then proceed south on Via Foria. After a few meters, it will be enough to turn around to discover the first dedication by the Neapolitans to the Prince de Curtis, a marble plaque placed next to the metro entrance.
Proceeding along Via Foria, we come to the entrance to Rione Sanità, located on our left. It is difficult to notice it during the day, but there is a shape of Totò made up of many small lights right at the entrance. In the evening, when the lights go on, it is fantastic to observe it, it seems as if Totò opened the door to the house, the doors of Rione Sanità, the neighbourhood, which saw him born and grow.
We continue our walk and enter the neighbourhood, surrounded by the many sounds, smells, and colours that distinguish it. It seems to immerse yourself in a place detached from the rest of the city, a world in itself.
Totò’s house in Via Santa Maria Antesaecula
Totò has grown up in Via Santa Maria Antesaecula, at number 109. To be precise, he was born on the third floor at number 107 on February 15, 1898, but after a few months, he moved with his mother Anna and his loving grandmother Teresa to number 109, where he lived until 1922, and then moved to Rome, where he lived until his death on April 15, 1967.
We immediately notice the balcony of Totò’s house, the one next to a marble plaque in his memory, affixed there on July 5, 1978.
A little further on, going up the same road, we notice a niche with a clay bust dedicated to him inside. The work was realized in 1990 by the sculptor Antonio Januario and commissioned the San Vincenzo Ferreri Association.
“Il Guappo” scene in Via Guido Amedeo Vitale
Continuing along the entire Via Santa Maria Antesaecula and turning left at the end of the road, we arrive at the Church of Saint Severo Out of Walls. Next to it, we find the famous Salita Cinesi (in English Chinese Climb), named after Priest Matteo Ripa who after having been a missionary in China returned to Rione Sanità bringing with him some Chinese people.
Walking on the Salita Cinesi we arrive at Via Guido Amedeo Vitale. Observing the building that stands in front of us, the film directed in 1954 by De Sica L’oro di Napoli will immediately come to our minds, in particular the scene from “Il Guappo” where Totò plays the “Pazzariello”. How to forget him surrounded by partying kids while singing and dancing!
Piazza Totò and the monolith
Let’s go back, walk the Salita Cinesi again and let’s go towards Via San Severo arriving in Piazza Sanità, just like Totò-Pazzariello does in the famous film. From here we continue towards Piazza Totò, which was dedicated a few years ago to the famous Neapolitan artist.
We pass under the bridge of Santa Teresa degli Scalzi and a little further on we see in front of us a red monolith with an empty centre, carved following the shape of Totò, including a bowler hat, perceived by many as the void left by the Neapolitan artist. The master Giuseppe Desiato made this sculpture.
Two famous theaters in Naples are also linked to Totò, the Trianon Theater in the Forcella area, not far from Corso Umberto I, and the Totò Theater, located in Via Cavara. Totò performed at the Trianon Theater shortly before moving to Rome with his family, while at the Totò Theater he never acted but, being not far from the Rione Sanità, in 1996 it was dedicated to him. We conclude our walking tour in the spectacular Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Piazza Mercato, where Toto’s funeral was held, attended by many people.
The Principe de Curtis rests in a family chapel at the Cemetery of Santa Maria Wailing.