If you take the train from Naples around the northern rim of Mount Vesuvius, you will arrive at Madonna dell’Arco, on the edge of the town of Sant’Anastasia. The station takes its name from the large and rather grandiose whitewashed sanctuary that dominates the neighbourhood. With its generic belfry and copper-green cupola, the church building, begun in 1593 and much extended in the twentieth century, is nothing to write home about architecturally. But its bulky presence is a good starting point for thinking about the concrete means by which...

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