Mozart &
Material Culture


During Mozart's lifetime, royal seat of the Kingdom of Naples. Formerly under Habsburg domain, Charles, Duke of Parma, took the Sicilian crown in 1734; when he became Carlos III of Spain in 1759 he installed his brother, Philip, as Ferdinand III of Sicily and Ferdinand IV of Naples, which remained under Bourbon control until 1860. During this time the city witnessed considerable new construction and restoration, including the building or renovation of the Teatro San Carlo, the Palazzo Reale, the Reggia di Capodimonte, the Villa di Portici, the royal palace at Caserta, the Piazza Mercato and the Cimitero di Poggioreale. It was also a prominent stopping place on the Grand Tour, in part for its proximity to Vesuvius and the recently-discovered towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Gaspar van Wittel, Veduta di napoli con il borgo di chiaia da pizzofalcone, c1701 (Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano)

Gaspar van Wittel, Veduta di napoli con il borgo di chiaia da pizzofalcone, c1701 (Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano)

Mozart Relevance

Mozart and his father visited Naples between 14 May and 25 June 1770. Few concerts by him are documented during this period and much of their time was spent exploring the city and the area around the Bay of Naples:

Certosa di S. Martino (largo S. Martino, 5). Carthusian monastery inaugurated in 1368. Mozart and his father visited Certosa di San Martino on 16 June 1770.

Grotta di Pozzuoli (Crypta Neapolitana). Roman tunnel (c37BC) connecting Naples and the Campi Flegrei; the eastern entrance is said to be the site of the tomb of the poet Virgil (70 BC-19 BC).

Herculaneum. Ancient Roman town below Mt Vesuvius, destroyed in the eruption of 79AD and rediscovered in 1709; major archaeological digs began there in 1738.

Lago di Agnano. Lake formerly in the Campi Flegrei, approximately 8 kilometers northwest of Naples, in the crater of the extinct volcano of Agnano; it was drained in 1870.

Molo di Mandracchio. Pier constructed in 1302, dividing the Angioino pier from the merchant port in Naples; between 1740-1749 it was connected to the city centre by the construction of the via Nuova Marina.

Palazzo di Capodimonte (via Capodimonte). Royal palace. Begun in 1738, in 1743 a porcelain factory (based on the model of Meissen porcelain) was also founded here. Mozart and his father visited on 18 or 19 June 1770.

Pompeii. Ancient Roman town below Mt Vesuvius, destroyed in the eruption of 79AD. Major archaeological digs began in 1748 with the rediscovery of Pompei by the Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre.

Portici. Summer residence of the Neapolitan Bourbons, built in 1738. Mozart and his father visited Portici on 20 May 1770.

S. Giovanni a Carbonara (via San Giovanni a Carbonara). Church and Augustinian monastery, founded in 1343. Mozart and his father lodged in a house belonging to the Augustinian monastery during their stay in Naples in June 1770; on 10 June they were invited to the monastery for lunch.

Strada Nuova (now the via Nuova Marina). Street running from the piazza del Carmine to the 'Miglio d'oro' (so called for its extensive gardens and orchards; during the mid-eighteenth-century it was home to the royal palace Portici and other notable villas).

Teatro dei Fiorentini (via Roberto Bracco, 3-13). Theatre, founded in 1618 for the presentation of stage plays and from 1706 functioning as an opera house; demolished in the 1950s. On 21 May 1770, Mozart and his father heard Carlo Franchi's La pastorella incognita at the Teatro dei Fiorentini.

Teatro S. Carlo (via S. Carlo). Built in 1737 (and reconstructed in 1816), Mozart and his father heard Jommelli's Armida abbandonata here on 30 May 1770.

Vesuvius. Volcano about 9 kilometers east of Naples. Its eruption in 79AD destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mozart and his father visited Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum on 18-19 June 1770.

Date (Mozart)
1770-05-14 - 1770-06-25
Location (Mozart)
Bibliographic Reference
Basso 2006, 417-423; Cooley and Cooley, Pompeii and Herculaneum: A Sourcebook; Sigurdsson, 'The Eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79'

Pages referencing Naples:

Surviving Souvenirs 1: Engravings of London purchased by, or given to, the Mozarts, 1764-5

Surviving Souvenirs 2: Engravings of Naples purchased by, or given to, the Mozarts, 1770

The Mozarts as Collectors of Souvenirs