Friday, October 30, 2009

Castel dell'Ovo

Nook of Naples: Virgil, according to medieval legend, was a great sorcerer. While he lived in Naples, he put a magical egg inside the Castel dell'Ovo (Egg Castle) and if it ever were to break, the city of Naples would experience death and destruction.

What might have motivated Virgil to lodge an egg inside the castle foundation (or, says another story, inside a cage of its dungeon)?

The foundations of the castle date back to the Normans in the 12th century. Thereafter, the castle had numerous occupants throughout the centuries (the Austrians, French, and Spanish, among others) and it underwent many renovations.

Sitting on the islet of Megaride, the castle's location is said to have been first inhabited by the Greeks in the 6th century B.C. Then, during the 1st century B.C. a Roman villa was erected on the site. But did Virgil ever roam this islet? He lived in Naples for ten years, so perhaps the poet's spirit does indeed still linger along the causeway where today amorous teenagers usually hang out on Friday and Saturday nights.

The castle is open everyday and you can climb to the top courtyard for free. Exhibitions are often on display in a variety of cavernous halls.

Book Recommendation: The Neapolitan Recipe Collection by Terence Scully. About cooking in Naples during the medieval period, this is an academic but interesting read.

Happy Egg Hunting!

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