The Small Closter of Saint Catherine in Formiello is a monumental 16th-century church in the very center of Naples, recently renovated and reopened to the public thanks to the “Made in Cloister” project, which aims to bring new life to the Porta Capuana district.
The splendid Renaissance cloister can be accessed from the church’s sacristy. In the 19th century, Ferdinand I of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, turned it into a woolen mill as part of his substantial efforts to industrialize the area. Thus this “hortus conclusus” quickly transformed from place of prayer into large factory, churning out military uniforms and many other things, employing some 400 workers.
The imposing wooden structure built in the center of the cloister was brought back to light thanks to the “Made in Cloister” project, and is a rare example of Bourbon industrial archaeology.
The decline of the structure started after Italy’s Unification: in 1861 the woolen mill was shut down, and the structure changed completely over the following years with various businesses opening, from carpenters’ workshops to warehouses and garages.
Luckily, today this precious corner of Naples has come back to life in all of its beauty.