Cimitero delle Fontanelle

Address: Via delle Fontanelle 154, Naples, 80134, Italy
Telephone: 081 296944

- Free


Death, skulls and superstition in Naples's spookiest 'attraction'.

The 17th century wasn't a good time for Naples: three uprisings, three famines, three earthquakes, five eruptions and three epidemics (including the great plague of 1656 which reportedly wiped out half the population of the city). The authorities chose this area to bury the dead as it was far enough (at the time) outside the city to avoid the risk of contamination. But by the time another cholera epidemic hit in 1835 it had become a repository for bodies from other cities (sounds strangely reminiscent of the current rubbish scandal, if you ask me). By the time bones had been brought here from the San Gaudioso catacombs, there were around 40,000 skulls and bones stored here.

During the Second World War supersticious locals began to 'adopt' a skull as a physical representation of a lost or missing son and began to pray to and leave little gifts for them, a ritual that continues (much to the chagrin of the Church) in some catacombs in the city.

Value for money

Expert tips

Be respectful. The cult still has a following.

Recommended for

  • Backpackers / Students
  • Families with teenagers
  • First-time travellers
  • Mature travellers
  • Seasoned travellers
  • Education
  • Sightseeing
  • History