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The old hamlet of Bonea is perched around the parish of San Giovanni Evangelista, better known as the Chiesa di Santa Maria Visita Poveri i.e. “Church of Saint Mary Visiting the Poor” from the deep devotion of the faithful to the saviour Madonna. The ancient temple in the small square was moved uphill in the 1700s because of the strong rainfalls that funnelled into the narrow little street. The church was rebuilt in a safer place, and until recently, after a sacrilegious theft, featured a painting from 1609 of the seated Virgin, dropping gold coins with her left hand and holding a long processional cross with her right hand. The Child indicates with his right hand something unclear in his other hand, probably bread. Old incisions and ancient devotional family paintings, however, clearly indicate that the Child is holding an open pouch with coins. The subject, a rare one and very modestly rendered in today’s copy, allows us to consider the possibility that the stolen painting could have alluded to an archaic farming cult of female divinities, referencing to the abundance and fertility of the land. The name of the casale itself, “Bonea”, could be a contraction of the Italic and Roman divinity “Bona Dea”, which some coins depict dispensing coins from a cornucopia. As the crow flies, between the sky and the sea, is the convent Convento di San Francesco, built in the 1600s around the more ancient church Chiesa di Santa Maria a Chieja. In the refectory, covered in Neapolitan majolica tiles of 1740, is a fresco painting of a 1600s “Supper”, unfortunately altered many times. After the church’s forecourt is the Belvedere, encompassing the entire view of the gulf of Naples. In the highest point, in 1977 the sculptor Emilio Greco traced a steel olive branch in the air, an homage to Poverello di Assisi. From Bonea, going uphill towards Massaquano, is a small square with Sant’Andrea flanked by two small churches: the more ancient one is the one of Sant’Antonio, and gives the name to the settlement.


Comune di Vico Equense - Ufficio Turismo e Cultura

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