For the last couple of years, I have been involved in this initiative to be of support to the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. In addition to the pull of the Southern regions of Italy from which all my ancestors came, I’ve really been inspired by the Capodimonte's curator Sylvain Bellenger whose responsibility was European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute in Chicago. It seemed improbable that he would be beckoned by the Italian Cultural Ministry to direct one of the three largest museums in Italy and one of the most important in Europe. But if you knew Sylvain, and walked a gallery or two with him in Chicago or Naples, you would understand how he could be a choice for such an enormous task in this palatial museum with treasures in their way equal to the Uffizi in Florence or the British Museum.
Sylvain originally asked me to form an American Friends of Capodimonte as a vehicle to bring more Americans to Naples and to make people aware of this great museum and of course the stupendous city of Naples and some of the regions of the South. Our first American Friends of Capodimonte trip last year was the greatest tour that I had ever been on and many of the other 16 people who came along felt the same. We travelled in and around Naples and then ventured an extension days to Sicily. This year’s trip will be 7 days all on the mainland.
I hope you will look through the itinerary for the American Friends this coming September and consider it. It will not be more than 20 people, just a small busload and between the art of the Capodimonte, the open air sights of Naples, and the gulf, and the travel down to Matera and the region of Apulia, replete with its own Greek and Norman remains. In the midst of it is a lot of very good meals and wine and the residences of some of the local family. I hope very much you can come on this trip in support of the Museum, but really to have an extraordinary exposure to an area of Italy not so well travelled.
President American Friends of Capodimonte