In 1872, Father Gaetano Barbati decided it was time to clean up the cave. He and his followers organized and catalogued the bones. But here’s where it gets really creepy: They also inspired a cult of devotion to the dead. Volunteers weren’t just cleaning skulls. They also were praying to them and asking them for favors. In 1969, the Archbishop of Naples closed the cemetery down, worrying it had become a fetishist cult. The cave only reopened to the public full-time in 2010… and it remains filled with the bones and skulls of 40,000 nameless.
The Cimitero delle Fontanelle is open daily from 10am-5pm, except for Wednesdays. It’s located at Via Fontanelle 80.
The San Gaudioso catacombs are located at Piazza Sanità 14. Guided tours are available on the hour every day from 10am to 1pm. Call in advance to request an English guide.