Eruptions and earthquakes have left their mark on the city of Naples. How have these disasters shaped the city’s art and architecture and the mindset of people living with natural threats?
Max Planck Lecture with Dr. Elisabetta Scirocco, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome
A consistent part of Neapolitan culture as we know it was shaped by the city’s peculiar relationship with natural disasters, which have affected the lives of Neapolitans for millennia. The volcanic cone of Vesuvius looms over Naples – as both a landmark and a fateful reminder for the southern Italian metropolis. For centuries, its eruptions have left their mark here. Like most of the Italian territory, Naples and its surroundings are additionally prone to earthquakes. Over the centuries, no other Italian city of this size and cultural relevance has experienced catastrophic natural events as regularly as Naples, which in the 17th century was the most densely populated city in Europe.
Elisabetta Scirocco examines how these phenomena have shaped the city’s art and architecture from the Middle Ages until very recent times, especially from the point of view of resilience after catastrophic events. She is focusing not only on the destruction and reconstruction of buildings and urban structures, but also on the creation of landmarks and rituals related to disasters. The study of natural disasters as an essential factor in shaping identities thus marks a new approach in art historical research on cultural memories and identities.
The lecture was part of Berlin Science 2021 and hosted by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
© Andy Warhol, Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Neapel_webp.jpg