Science


La Solfatara in the '800 between Science and Middle Ages

A real laboratory en plein air becomes the Solfatara in Pozzuoli, when, in 1861, the De Luca brothers, of Calabrian origin, bought it. 


Until then, between ups and downs, it is mainly used by the mining point of view, to produce Alum and Kaolin, cut firewood, draw water from underground, or even to offer pleasant shivers of fear to tourists imbued with mythological reminiscences. In the early nineteenth century became a military structure, and is also used as a training area for target practice. 


This ancient usage, perhaps, is evidenced by the preference shown for this place as a venue for duels more or less to the death ... 

But above all Sebastiano De Luca, chemist and naturalist, was the principal architect of the transformation of "use" of the popular resort, which becomes a place for study, discoveries and pure research. Sebastiano is in many ways a mysterious figure, lonely, almost a "Sorcerer's Apprentice", who uses every element in his properties, organic or inorganic, stone, plant or animal to make them the subject of analysis, study, experiment, curious about every phenomenon, tended to a thousand applications of the discoveries made. He does not even stop in being a guinea pig for his own experiments: particularly fascinating is, in fact, his description, clear and precise, of the effects felt after taking hashish ...

With the same rigour and with the same passion Sebastiano De Luca carries on his studies and his experiments on the air, the water, the land of the Solfatara, not neglecting to act chemically on plants and animals of the place. Very accurate are, in particular, the descriptions of the different lands in the crater of the dormant volcano, the lead derivative, the yellow earth and Kaolin, which recalls the use in handling dyes, preparation of lime and, in Roman times, in making as white as possible the "Alica" or "Abica", a preparation for cakes and flat bread... 

... And on the other hand, when at the end of the '400 the Aragonese return the "lumiera of the Solfatara" to the family of Jacopo Sannazaro, legitimate owner, it had to have its value in terms of mining, if earlier, had often being used as dowry of many brides by many of its owners. Following this, it lives a dark period in this respect, perhaps due to the boycott, got thanks to remarkable amounts of ducats, by the Church, a direct competitor in the production of Alum and relative supply south of Rome. 

Its golden moment is right at the end of the Eighteenth century, when it passes, as it was said, to Giuseppe Brentano, whom the Casa Santa dell'Annunziata di Napoli lavishes 300 ducats to put into activity the factory, under the protection and supervision of Scipione Breislak. What follows is a flurry of activity and changes of ownership, of tenants or "censuarii", working, or giving work, to up to 360 men, as told by Lorenzo Palatino in his "Storia di Pozzuoli e contorni" dated 1826. And so here we are, a little later, when Sebastiano De Luca becomes the owner of the Solfatara, with his exquisite and pure scientific interest in this place... 
[For further information] 

Doc. Maria Angarano

Vulcano Solfatara Srl
Via Solfatara 161
80078 Pozzuoli [Napoli], Italia
Contacts
Phone: +39 081 5262341
Email: info@solfatara.it
Opening Hours
Monday - Sunday: 8:30 to 19:00 from April to October
8:30 to 16:30 from November to March

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