5 things to see in Castellammare di Stabia
In the territory between the end of the Vesuvian area and the beginning of the Sorrento Peninsula, about 30 kilometers from our boutique hotel, lies Castellammare di Stabia, the heir to ancient Stabiae destroyed by the terrible eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. The city, set in the center of the Gulf of Naples, is rich in attractions that are relevant both historically and artistically.
What to see in Castellammare di Stabia? Here are 5 things not to miss!
Archaeology enthusiasts cannot miss for any reason in the world the excavations of Stabiae, today’s Castellammare, which was destroyed along with Pompeii and Herculaneum by the Vesuvian eruption of 79 AD. Compared with those of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the excavations of Stabiae are smaller in size but no less interesting. The ancient city was a favorite destination for Roman patricians, so much so that its territory was dotted with numerous residential villas, some of which have been unearthed while others are still partially or completely buried. Two villas can be visited, Villa San Marco and Villa Arianna, where the design skills of the Roman architects who built them can be appreciated.
The Co-Cathedral of Mary Most Holy Assumption and St. Catellus
Castellammare di Stabia is rich in religious testimonies, including the Co-Cathedral of Mary Most Holy Assumption and St. Catellus, in which the statue of St. Catellus (the city’s patron saint) is kept, which is carried in procession by the Stabia faithful on January 19 (liturgical feast) and the second Sunday in May (patronage celebration). Construction began in 1587 but proceeded very slowly. In fact, the church was consecrated only in 1893, although it had already been in use since 1643. Inside are valuable paintings by Jusepe de Ribera, Domenico Morelli, Francesco De Nicola, Angelo Mozzillo, Giacinto Diano and Giuseppe Bonito, to name a few.
The Church of Jesus and Mary
A short walk from the Co-Cathedral of Mary Most Holy Assumption and San Catello is the monumental Church of Jesus and Mary. The building was erected in the first half of the 17th century thanks to the contribution of a wealthy and noble Stabiese gentleman, a certain Pier Giovanni Nocera, although over time it has undergone various restorations. The church houses a large number of splendid works of art. These include a painting by Luca Giordano depicting the Blessed Virgin of Refuge and a painting by Paolo De Matteis representing St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier receiving the brief of the mission from the pope.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Libera
Another religious building not to be missed is the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Libera, located in the hamlet of the same name on Mount San Cataldo. It dates back to the second half of the 15th century but owes its present appearance to extension work carried out in the 1960s. The exterior features a beautiful portal with a triangular tympanum, while on the high altar is the painting that gives the complex its name: it is a 10th-century Byzantine fresco depicting the Madonna of Tenderness, better known as the Madonna of Libera, holding the baby Jesus in her arms and at her sides Saints Cataldo and John the Evangelist.
The Palace of Quisisana
The Reggia di Quisisana is a splendid historic residence nestled in the woods, with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Naples. It was built in the 13th century by Angevin rulers but it was in the second half of the 18th century, with interventions conducted by Charles III of Bourbon, that it took on its present appearance. In the late 1960s it was abandoned, and only in 2009, after careful restoration, did it return to its former glory. Since 2020 it has housed an archaeological museum named after Libero D’Orsi, the archaeologist who devoted much of his professional activity to the excavations of ancient Stabiae. Numerous prestigious artifacts from the Stabian territory are collected there.