Roman ruins, Gothic architecture and Neapolitan artisan crafts live harmoniously behind the walls of Santa Chiara, a citadel-like complex with an unusual double convent.
Like most Gothic structures handed down to us from the Angevins, Santa Chiara once wore all of the ornamentation of the Baroque. WWII air raids tragically reduced the complex to rubble, but restoration works serendipitously brought back its Gothic splendor. The sepulcher of its creator, Robert the Wise sits at the front of this once Royal church. The tomb of WWII hero Salvo D’Acquisto sits in the back.
Another serendipitous by-product of the WWII bombings was the discovery of a Roman era thermal bath complex, a rarely visited gem connected to Santa Chiara’s Museum of the Works. The museum chronicles the 10 year reconstruction of Santa Chiara through photographs, sketches and precious artifacts pulled from the rubble. Santa Chiara’s claim to fame is its whimsical Majolica Cloister. A corncucopia of blue, yellow and green hand painted ceramic tiles bedeck the garden’s benches in pastoral scenes of 18th century life. A small room just off the cloister houses a Neapolitan presepe collection.