History and nature in Palazzo Donn’Anna
To tell the story of Palazzo Donn’Anna, in Naples, we are happy to quote great local writer Raffaele La Capria, who was born and raised in this imposing, unfinished building on the sea (and used it as the location of his second novel, “Ferito a morte”, in 1961).
“An old building rises on the sea, entering Posillipo, after the Mergellina curve; from afar, it looks like a tuff cliff emerging from the water, full of holes and caves. As you come closer, the imposing architecture of a 17th-century abode appears in its full beauty, although now largely in ruins, almost inhabitable and falling apart. It is the palace that Don Ramiro Guzmán, duke of Medina de Las Torres and viceroy of Naples, built in 1642 for his wife Anna Carafa, born in Naples; Palazzo Donn’Anna was named after her.”
“With its corroded, yellowish tuff walls, riddled with empty niches and walled-up windows, arches open to the gulf, grottos full of water, and the chiaroscuro of a façade hollowed by wind and brackish air, it sometimes appears like a rock or a cliff that has just emerged from the depths of the sea, full of crannies and calcareous incrustation, lichens and lithophaga mussels. And so at first sight it looks like something that is not well defined, unfinished, something that belongs to History – when the austere baroque flash from its architecture – and to Nature – as it almost camouflages with the coastline and becomes an element in the landscape. This ambiguity, this bridging Nature and History, is also the secret contrast in the soul of Naples.”
“One can rarely find a more pleasant and natural harmony between location and building. The position of the palace adds more fantastic and perhaps unexpected perspectives to its architecture. The tuff stone it is made of takes on infinite hues as the light changes during the day, and proximity to the blue sea reflecting it integrate the structure so well into the arch of the coast, despite its imposing size, that from a distance it almost disappears, camouflaged in the landscape” (translated from R. La Capria, “Napoli”, Mondadori, Milan 2009).