Scandal in Posillipo

March 13, 2015 / Places
Naples, Campania
2008.03.09 49 Vesuvius from Posillipo

Queen Joanna II (1373 – 1435) lived in troubled times. Her series of court favourites and lovers was embroidered in the popular mind into a story that she sent servants onto the streets of Naples seeking the handsomest fellows for her bed. These men, having satisfied the queen’s needs, were then thrown to sea monsters, or even an African crocodile, in some dark recess of the Castel Nuovo. She lived at the Castel Capuano and her amorous activities allegedly extended to the Villa Sirena in Posillipo.

2008.03.09 48 Palazzo Donna Anna, Posillipo

Two hundred years after Joanna’s death, Princess Anna Carafa (1607 – 1644) inherited this villa and ordered the architect Cosimo Fanzago to renovate it. Lavish parties ensued. Matilde Serao in her book about the legends of Naples tells how Anna Carafa competed with her niece Mercede de la Torre for the love of another man. There was a fight one night, after which Mercede was never seen again.

2011.11.02 64 Walk down to the sea Naples

It is said that Mercede’s ghost haunts the villa, now named Palazzo Donn’Anna. Cosimo Fanzago would never complete his renovations of the palace. Instead, Anna’s husband, a Spanish viceroy, returned to Spain while Anna remained in Naples taking up residence in a villa in Portici and dying a lonely woman.


This note is an amuse-bouche for the Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples, into which Bonnie Alberts, Barbara Zaragoza and Penny have poured their passion for the city. More at and

by Barbara Zaragoza

Barbara is author of several books, including “The Espresso Break: Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond” available on in print as well as Kindle versions.

Bonnie Alberts, Penny Ewles-Bergeron and Barbara have teamed up to create a new Naples travel guide, the Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples. See all their articles at or order the book at

3 Responses to “Scandal in Posillipo”

  1. wVivian Kauffman

    Your blog certainly got my attention! My grandmother’s name was Filomena Carafa (1877-1946). I believe she emigrated to the USA from Perano, Italy around 1918. Any suggestions on how I can possibly trace her back to see if she is in any way connected to the “Princess Anna” in your story. Thanks so much for your blog.

  2. Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks Giuseppe and Vivian for your kind responses. Vivian, I can see from the genealogical resources online that this is a complex family tree and there are a lot of sites where people have logged information., for e.g., has 381 profiles referenced. You probably need someone expert in the Italian records to assist you, especially if you need any help with the Italian language. If you are setting out to research family yourself, I find the site really useful. Sorry not to be more help!


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