Giacomo Leopardi stayed in Naples from 1833 to 1837, not only because of his health needs but also because of his great friendship with Antonio Ranieri. Already in 1827-1828 in Florence Leopardi tasted the pleasure of “Neapolitan conversation” thanks to his visiting some Naples artists.
In Florence, Alessandro Poerio introduced Leopardi to Antonio Ranieri. Between the two young men a great friendship developed which brought them to spend five months together in Rome in 1830. In 1832 Ranieri went back to Naples, his birth place, and between the two men a frequent correspondence started.
On october 2nd 1832 Leopardi reached Ranieri in Naples hoping the mild climate in town would be positive for his health. Both lived in Via San Mattia n° 88 on the second floor of Palace Berio near San Ferdinando Square.
During the days following his arrival, Leopardi wrote e short letter to his father: “… I arrived here luckily, namely without damage and misfortune. My health furthermore isn’t a big deal and my eyes are always in the same state. The climate mildness, the town amenities and the lovable, good hearted character of the citizens give me a pleasant feeling.” Such an enthusiasm came soon to an end because of the not quite idyllic relations with the neapolitan intellectuals, who didn’t loose any occasion to mock him and call him “o’ ranavuottolo” (a little frog) each time when they saw him sitting at the table in coffee shop “Two Sicilies” regularly visited by Leopardi.
Two months later Leopardi and Ranieri moved to Via S. Maria Ogni Bene n°35, in district Vomero where the best air in Naples could be breathed. On the eve of the house moving his “Operette morali” (Moral Works) were confiscated.
During the years spent in Naples, Leopardi busied himself with the writing of his “Pensieri” (Thoughts), but shortly Leopardi’s health conditions got worse and, when in Naples a cholera epidemic exploded, Leopardi moved with Ranieri to the Villa Ferrigni in Torre del Greco, where he stayed from summer in that year till February 1837. During his Vesuvian stay Leopardi worked about his poem “The broom or desert flower”, one of his most famous lyrics, where he expresses his clinging to life and and judges nature a tyrant.
In 1837 he went back to Naples with Ranieri, but his health conditions got worse and on June 14th in that year he suddenly died, after feeling sick at the end of a meal.
According to the witness of Antonio Ranieri, Leopardi died at 9 p.m. in Antonio’s arms and his last words were: “Farewell, Totonno, I don’t see light any longer”. Thereafter Ranieri published an add about Leopard’s death on the newspaper “Il Progresso”.
Leopardi died in the age of 39 years, at a time when cholera was hitting Naples downtown.
Thanks to Ranieri who involved the Police Minister, Leopardi’s corpse was not thrown in a common grave, as requested by the severe laws at cholera time, but buried in the hall at San Vitale Church in Fuorigrotta.
In 1939 his remains were moved to the Virgil Park in Piedigrotta – named Park of the Virgil tomb, in the district Mergellina, and the place was declared a national monument.