One of the most beautiful examples of the encounter between science and art is the historical Farmacia degli Incurabili, which is also remarkable as the best preserved hospital pharmacy of the old Realm. Artistically the pharmacy is an unsurpassed masterpiece of Baroque-Rococo style. From a historical perspective, the pharmacy gives us an intriguing glimpse into the world of the scientific elite during the Neapolitan Enlightenment.
The pharmacy was designed in 1729 by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro as part of the hospital’s expansion. The elegant double staircase of piperno leading to the pharmacy embraces a bronze bust Maria Lorenza Longo, who founded the hospital in 1529. The portico at the top of the stairs is adorned with marble portals crowned by vases and devilish faces symbolizing the dual nature of medicinal drugs: they can be used to heal, or they can be used to kill.
The interior of the pharmacy was probably constructed between 1747 and 1751 by Bartolomeo Vecchione, an engineer who recruited the most respected Neapolitan artists and artisans: Fucito for the woodworking, the display cases, and the large dispensary counter; Di Fiore and Martazzo for the carvings and giding; Crescenzio Trinchese for the marble and the urn of Theriac; Massa for laying the maiolica floor tiles, which were decorated by Lorenzo Salandra.