We always come back to Naples with pleasure. This time the right “excuse” provided by Andrea and Valentina Pietrocola the creators of the blog La Cucina del Fuorisede that together with Gino Sorbillo selected us as winners of the #acenadaSorbillo prize evening in which we tasted different types of pizzas that have ideally carried around Italy, just like the students who decide to go to university far from home.
A project of social and tourist recovery
So we decided to contact the six young people of the Social Cooperative San Nicola da Tolentino, founded in 2014 as a rib of the Social Cooperative “La Paranza” onlus, protagonist for twelve years of the rebirth of the Rione Sanità and which we talked about in our article dedicated to visit of the Catacombs of Naples.
Our intention, in fact, was to tell their story together with the magnificent place they have taken care of over the years. So of this post, despite being included in the column #sognidoro, it is not only the protagonist the seventeenth-century monastery of Casa Tolentino, but all the activities that revolve around the monumental complex owned by the Vincentian Missionary Fathers and which are splinters of bright light in areas like these.
When we arrived, after leaving the car in the partner parking in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, we initially struggled to understand that the narrow arch with the steep staircase overlooking one of the busiest streets in Naples, was the pedestrian path that leads to the widening on dominated by the complex and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.
At the gate welcomed us Federica Capuozzo, the Head of Communication of Casa Tolentino. It is from her that we begin to know more about the evolution of this project called Napolixenìa which was financed by Fondazione CON IL SUD and which aims to integrate and occupy the citizens and enhance the area of the Quartieri Spagnoli. And it is always her that leads us to a first discovery of this paradise.
Immersed in a green that you do not expect at the foot of Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino, an oasis of peace and silence in one of the most hectic and densely populated areas of the city. But from here everything seems far away: the sounds arrive muffled and the panorama catches the eye.
Already Federica explains us that Casa Tolentino is not just a b&b but is part of a much larger project in which the young people of the cooperative are passionately committed, all from Quartieri Spagnoli and all ready to create an opportunity for emancipation and redemption.
And it repeats us Peppe Maienza, responsible for organizing the events of Casa Tolentino, who later took us on a tour of the Quartieri Spagnoli, one of the activities proposed by the group to promote the heritage of art, traditions and popular culture, often unknown also to the Neapolitans themselves.
As we anticipated, the cooperative, also formed by Francesco Porpora, Ferdinando Cuomo, Antonio Trotta and Gianluca Leone who coordinates the work of everyone, has obtained the management of part of the huge structure by the Vincentian Missionary Fathers and has made it become a flower the pride of the area and a reference point for families thanks to the recreational-recreational workshops with children and the collaboration with associations and parishes present in the area.
Since July they have also founded an Asd (amateur sports association) which is called “Vic – Vicoli in corso” to better manage these activities of “contour” of a social nature for the District ranging from the laboratories to football and entertainment such as theater itinerant, playground for children, musical events to enhance and highlight the potential of the territory.
Turning to tourists, however, the reception services in the thirteen rooms, including nine with sea views, all equipped with Wi-Fi, TV and minibar, heating, private bathroom and breakfast, and visits to the discovery of the alleys, but also of the complex itself.
Starting from the garden of 5 thousand square meters, which since 2010 is “Well of historical and artistic interest” and National Monument of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and where is hosted the football field made with eco-friendly products for the protection of environment.
Peppe has accompanied us to the spaces of this huge structure that was used for years as a seminar and showed us the church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, another surprise. We did not know that in Naples the first Sanctuary was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, where St. Joseph Moscati also went on pilgrimage, of which one of his memorials is kept in honor of the Madonna in the Chapel of the Grotto, reproduced in all similar to that of Lourdes.
Little by little, the simple and all-white church was enriched with fine marbles, precious paintings and majestic altars. A characteristic, perhaps unique, is that almost all the walls, the pillars of the Sanctuary and even the walls of the Sacristy are covered with ex-voto stones attesting the gratitude to the Immaculate of Lourdes for graces received: there are more than 3000 and the first it is from 1875, seventeen years after the Apparitions.
Then we climbed on the roof of the church from where the gaze sweeps across the gulf, a marvelous picture with the massive presence of Vesuvius and the island of Capri in the background where sea and sky merge. And we are soon convinced that we are in the right place, as the slogan says on the site, because here we make peace with the world. And you also sleep us little angels: the night in our room, with the two windows wide open on the city and the sea, special paintings that change at any time of day or evening, has passed serene and in the morning the regenerating breakfast has done the rest.
A small, only drawback: our four-legged friends can not enjoy this paradise.