06 Nov 2016

A wonderful portrait for Princess Sissi

article by Michele Sergio

In the historic gilded halls of Gambrinus, many paintings of the Posillipo school of the late 19th century are on display. It was the entrepreneur Mariano Vacca who, having taken over the management of the Caffè in 1890, called the best Neapolitan painters and sculptors of the time to renew his restaurant. The result was the creation of a magnificent art gallery with over 50 Art Nouveau-inspired paintings.

In these paintings are depicted faces and landscapes of our land: from Neapolitan street scugnizzi (street children without education) to the beautiful women of the population, from the views of the Gulf of Naples to the bucolic scenes of the Campanian countryside.

Among the most beautiful paintings, however, it is worth mentioning Piazza Vittoria by Edoardo Matania who in his work portrayed the Empress Elisabetta Di Baviera, better known as the Princess Sissi, who in 1890 went to Naples to visit the beauties of our city and on that occasion she also went to the Gran Caffè Gambrinus to taste the violet-flavored ice-cream. Even today it is possible to taste this ice cream because the historic Neapolitan restaurant proposes it for tourists and patrons.

Returning to the painting in a few can recognize via Caracciolo (which is the background to Sissi). The Princess is portrayed in this picture while walking along the promenade with an umbrella to protect herself from the sun’s rays. In 1890 Via Caracciolo was, in fact, very different from that of our time: where today we can see the road at that time there was the beach (Riviera di Chiaia) and where today there are cars then there were only carriages and horses .

What appeals to this painting is not only the memory of an era that no longer exists but it is especially striking to see how many and famous people have loved and appreciated our city.