Once the Douglasses had arrived in Naples, where did they go for lodging? The Baedeker mentions several first and second class hotels, many in locations still considered choice along the waterfront, and pensiones for "a stay of from 3-4 days upward." Frederick, however, had directed his son Lewis to write to him care of Rev. J.C. Fletcher in Naples. Fletcher was a minister at one of the few "English" and therefore Protestant churches in the city, Presbyterian in this case, located at 8 Cappella Vecchia 2, an address quite difficult to find today both on the tourist map and on my phone.
But I did it. Here is what Google Maps shows from my computer at home. I assure you this is not quite what it looked like on my phone. On my phone, only a street shaped a bit like a reverse L appeared. As on this picture, the scale is usually difficult to determine. The pin also did not show on my phone.
As it turned out, we spent a lot of time in that general area, since that is in the "historic" part of the town where most of the tourists go and has most of the restaurants. Some of the surrounding streets, especially those around that triangle shaped monument and angling toward the water have names you might recognize if you follow high fashion.
This, by the way, is the monument, The Monument to the Neapolitan Martyrs of the Risorgimento, which was there when the Douglasses were.:
The Cappella Vecchio would be on the other side of the buildings to the left.
By the way, those tents in the background there cover a lovely little bar. About the time most Americans or English think of eating dinner, most Italians settle in for a nice cappuccino or glass of wine and a little snack. They don't eat dinner until much much later, nine or ten o'clock. We noticed that in Spain and in Normandy, too, but that's another story.
Anyway, I mention the bar because we had already had a glass there on a couple of occasions when I went in search of Cappella Vecchia, expecting a big church or even a modest church or anything that might have once passed for a church, rectory, and school that had once served a modest-sized English-language community into the twentieth century. Turns out, we had passed Cappella Vecchia not only every time we went to that bar, but several other times as well. It just looked more like what we in America consider an alley. You have to adjust your eyes in medieval towns.
This was the entrance to the street.
Looking down the street. The garbage and graffiti is normal.
At the end of the street we came to this, a sort of courtyard to what looked like private homes and businesses.:
Inside of the courtyard, to the right as you enter, I found this. Not necessarily a church.:
Alas, this was just a bit of the graffiti in the archway to the courtyard and along the street. A faction seems to celebrate fascism with glorification of Mussolini and his ilk, including Trump in that set. I wondered if they were too young to have remembered what happened last time. Our guide in the Colosseum certainly had no love for the old guy, but that was Rome.
This was the view from the arch backdown the street, including the ubiquitous and deadly scooters and satellite dishes, neither of which were a site of Douglass's time, and laundry, which was..:
Back on the main street, looking down toward where the Douglasses would have stayed. That building in the foreground is clearly much more recent, so I wondered if the church stood there and was torn down since or perhaps became the victim of an Allied bomb. There is a parking garage just behind it, but the number 8 building, we could see thorough the grimy main floor door windows, seemed to have some construction going on inside. The floor and other architectural features were marble and the whole building seemed to have been adapted to multi-person housing.
Here is a bird's eye view courtesy of Google Maps:
Alas, the one close-to-contemporary map that I have found in my limited search in not sharp enough to tell much more, and it dates to 1912.
Staying with the Fletchers. whom he mentions several time in his diary, and among winter tourist and expatriates from England and the United States, shaped the Douglasses' visit and certainly led to Frederick being called upon to speak. The head of the Presbyterian Church and Fletcher's co-worker if not boss, the Rev. Johnson Irvine, called upon Douglass to speak about John Brown on 1 February 1887, which not one of the regular meetings of the church. The following Sunday, he attended the Methodist church in the city, which was not an English church but for Italian Methodists, and "was called upon for a few words at the close, which were interpreted by Mr. Jones." Jones was the Rev. Thomas W. Jones, who headed the southern Methodist missionary district in Italy. Douglass had begun his spiritual life as a Methodist, so you can imagine he drew upon that in these "few words."
Douglass's speech, according to himself, went something like: "I congratulated the congregation that they had now the Liberty to worship outside the Romish Church, and said a few words of human Brotherhood." He wasn't so much being explicitly anti-Catholic (which he, let's face it, was) as referring to the events of the previous two decades in Italy that had allowed for more religious freedom in Italy by breaking some of the Vatican's control over the newly unified nation. Jones interpreted what he said for the congregation.
Where this was, however, was difficult to determine, especially since I am well-versed in neither Methodist nor Naples history. The Baedker had no reference to a Methodist Church, but it did mention "Italian Service of the Waldensian Church" which was held on Sunday evenings in the Scotch church. I don't know exactly what all of that means, but some searching turned up that the Methodists worked with the Waldensians in Italy and Presbyterians are of Scottish origin.
So, a wild-assed and semi-educated guess might have the Presbyterians, who had Sunday services at 11 am and 3pm, loaning their church building out to the Methodists and Waldensians for an evening service. The Waldensians also had another, presumably morning service, in their church in Montecalvario, which is a neighborhood north of the Presbyterian Church and partly on a hillside.
Mark Emerson, who annotated Douglass's travel diary for his master's thesis, found it on a street called San Anna di Palazzo. I could not find that easily on my phone but have found it on my computer. I'm pretty sure we passed it once or twice.:
Note its proximity to the Presbyterian church. In any case, at this point, not finding it on my phone, however, I had to make the determination if I was on a Douglass's trip or my own. I chose the latter. Sometimes you just have to live your own life.------------------------------------
- Karl Baedeker Firm. Italy. Handbook for Travelers, Third Part: Southern Italy and Sicily (7th, ed.; London: Dulac and Co, 1880).
- Frederick Douglass to Lewis (and Amelia) Douglass, Rome, Italy, 24 January 1887, General Correspondence, Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress.
- Frederick Douglass, Travel Diary, Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress.