Naples Picture: Santa Chiara MonasteryJames Martin, Europe Travel
Santa Chiara Monastery, one of my favorite places in Naples, has a peaceful cloister with stunning majolica tiled columns and benches (added in 1742), a garden, and beautiful 17th century frescoes under the arches of the walkways. It makes a nice contrast to the hectic center of Naples.
After you stroll around the courtyard, go into the museum where you'll find not only religous relics but archeological finds from the 1st through 4th centuries AD and an excavation of a Roman thermal spa. Pieces remaining from the original church are on display Don't miss the 18th century presepe, or nativity, in a side room near the entrance.
Santa Chiara Church and Monastery were built in the 14th century. The original church, built in Provencal Gothic style, was the largest Clarissan church ever built. In the 17th to 18th centuries it was remodeled in Baroque style but after being almost destroyed during World War II, it was restored in what is believed to be its original form. The church holds the tombs of several kings and queens as well as relics of Saint Louis of Toulouse, including his brain. Next to the church is the nun's choir with fragments of frescoes attributed to Giotto.
The museum and monastery are currently open every morning from 9:30 to 13:00 and except on Sundays also from 15:30 to 17:30. Address: Via Benedetto Croce 16. Santa Chiara Museum on the web.
Recommended hotel near Santa Chiara: Decumani Hotel de Charme (information and booking). Even though the hotel is in the center of Naples, our room was very quiet. I found the staff extremely helpful with answering questions and giving good restaurant suggestions. It's in a former palazzo and a cut above the usual three star hotel.