The map is considered to be a masterpiece of 18th century cartography.
The map which is on a scale of 1:3.808, is formed by 35 copper plates engraved by Giuseppe Aloia Gaetano Cacace, Pietro Campana and Francesco Lamarra, and covers an area from Capodimonte all the way to Bagnoli, Nisida and Portici.
The engraving Molds are kept in the National Museum of San Martino. The scientific approach towards the map plan reflected the reformist and enlightened spirit off the time. It was the product of Giovanni Carafa’s intensive research, funded by the Neapolitan Senate. Carafa was the Duke of Noia (1715-1768)), a town on the outskirts of Bari currently named Noicattaro. He was also a lecturer of Optics and Mathematics at the University of Naples, and mineralogy, archaeology, and numismatics researcher.
After Carafa’death, the map was completed by Giovanni Pignatelli, Prince of Monteroduni, and Niccolò Carletti, professor of architecture and Mathematics at the University of Naples.
The map, recognised as an achievement in urban planning and design, showcases the most important monuments and locations in Naples. It has recently been revived in a way that makes its 35 plates and 580 notes more easily accessible.
In 1750 Giovanni Carafa wrote an enlightened letter which describes his plan for a map of Naples as a venture in which “ the love for the country, the glory and art, made both for public benefit and private profit, unite”. He wrote that those who love their motherland wouldn’t be able to ignore how important that map was. His vision was exceptional : he even encouraged the development of a map of the ruins of Herculaneum, which had just been excavated.
The hidden city went on to astonish Europe after its tunnels and remains were unearthed thanks to the accidental story of a florist named Enzechetta and his well, on Prince d’Elbouef’s land.
Giovanni felt like a lot still had to be done in Naples under Charles III, a time when the capital had to expanded by one quarter, and therefore there was a need to map the new roads and buildings. He thought the city was still too chaotic, as on one hand it still lacked uniform sewage system and Piazza Mercato was a messy tangle, whilst great emphasis was being put on the development of the Hospice for the Poor (Albergo dei Poveri).
In 1750 Giovana Carafa started observing Naples from above, from Posilippo to Portici, and decided to portray it. On top of his mathematical studies, he started carrying out research in natural science, mineralogy, and geology.
His residence housed a Wunderkammer which started with a collection of aquatic plants and seabed rocks to then become one of the world’s most interesting collections, even visited by the likes of Winkelmann during his stay in Naples.
In 1747 Giovanni had been summoned to join the king’s court after the army he’d built for the king stood out in the Battle of Velletri.
Thereafter, his collection of wonders became rich in Greek and Latin epigraphs, paintings, prints, drawings, vases, medals, and coins. His desire to draft a map of Naples reveals his enlightened spirit and makes him one of the first ones to argue the need public order to be monitored by observing the city as a whole. However, the funds received for the project that he had proposed to Charles III weren’t enough for his travels : the European main capitals’ intelligentsia, from Petersburg to London via Holland and France, welcomed him and were captive by his ideas. Giovanni spent ten years studying, learning, and sharing his knowledge.
In 1760 he then involved Vanti to work on the relief, while professors Campana, Aloia and Lamarra were put in charge of the engravings. They worked hard for eight long years, but the map of Naples and its surroundings wasn’t completed until 1775, after Giovanni Carafa’s death.
The outcome boasted 35 large sheets created by imprinting copper plates. The area of Capodimonte to Bagnoli, Nisida and Portici was represented on an 11 square metres scale, halfway between an aesthetic ideal and topographic accuracy. The map of the duke of Noia is the most beautiful and complex map of Naples, an international masterpiece from the 18th century.