San Severo al Pendino

DESTINATIONS italy naples centro storico san-severo-al-pendino

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San Severo al Pendino

Erected in the 16th century atop a previous church, this building has evolved many times—from the church of San Severo into a private palace, a monastery later suppressed by Napoleon, a state archive, a World War II bomb shelter, and an earthquake-damaged relic—before a long and painstaking renovation restored its luster. To the right of the nave rests the tomb of Charles V's general—and original church benefactor—Giovanni Bisvallo. In addition to its aesthetic highlights, the complex also provides a telling lesson on mortality. Aboveground one can view the grandeur of monuments to the dead. Less grandly, a brief excursion downstairs reveals the scolatoi; these are draining holes where the recently deceased, seated upright and left to be drained of bodily fluids, were visited daily by Domenican monks seeking to reinforce their sense of the fragility of human existence.

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