Mozart &
Material Culture


Coronelli, Pozzuoli.jpeg

Coronelli Vincenzo Maria, ‘Veduta della Città di Pozzuoli—Veduta della Grotta di Pozzuoli di Fuori’ from Teatro della Guerra... Regno di Napoli (Venice, 1707-8)

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).

Mozart Relevance

On 16 June 1770, Leopold Mozart wrote to his wife: 'On the 13th . . .  [w]e took a carriage and drove out to Pozzuoli at 5 in the morning, arriving there before 7. . . [we saw] the Grotto di Pozzuoli and Virgil’s grave. The Grotto di Pozzuoli is like our Neutor, except that it took us 8 minutes to drive through it as it is 344 cannas long.' According to contemporaneous calculations,  Leopold reports the length of the Grotto di Pozzuoli as just over 900 meters; the Neutor, by comparison, is 135 meters.

The journey from Naples to Pozzuoli is described in Johann Georg Keysslers’ Neueste Reisen durch Deutschland, Böhmen, Ungarn, die Schweiz, Italien und Lothringen (Hannover, 1740-1), a copy of which Leopold owned or had access to, and consulted before traveling to Italy (the following translation is from the English translation of Keyssler published in London as Travels Through Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, and Lorrain: Giving a True and Just Description of the Present State of Those Countries, Their Natural, Literary, and Political History, Manners, Laws, Commerce, Manufactures, Painting, Sculpture, Arthitecture, Coins, Antiquities, Curiosities of Art and Nature, &c (London, 1756-1758)):

  1. Formerly in going from Naples to Puzzuolo it was necessary to cross mount Pausilypo . . . but at present that trouble is spared, a broad subterraneous road being cut through the mountain. This passage is conducted for the most part through large rocks, and sometimes through strata of sand. It is at both ends betwixt ninety and a hundred feet high in order to throw in more light. Towards the middle where the top is lower, two large vent-holes for light and air are made through the roof of this grotto: however, the light is not sufficient, and travelers are extremely incommoded with dust in this subterraneous passage. . .  The breadth is betwixt eighteen and twenty feet, so that there is sufficient room for two carriages to avoid each other: and, to prevent any inconveniency on this head, it is usual in the dark places to call out to any person coming the contrary way, to know on which side they intend to keep.

Note 1: For a longer extract of the English translation of Keyssler's book, see the Event entity: 1770 A Day Trip Around the Bay of Naples.
Note 2: For modern images of the tunnel entrances, see the Posillipo Tunnel / Roman Seiano tunnel entry in the Naples: Bay of Naples - Day Trip locations entity.

Grotta di Pozzuoli