This convent is one of the oldest and most important in Naples. Set on Via San Gregorio Armeno, the street lined with Naples' most adorable Presepe—or Nativity crèche scene–emporiums—the convent is landmarked by a picturesque campanile. The nuns who lived here, often the daughters of Naples's richest families, must have been disappointed with heaven when they arrived—banquets here outrivaled those of the royal court, hallways were lined with paintings, and the church was filled with gilt stucco and semiprecious stones. Described as "a room of Paradise on Earth" by Carlo Celano and designed by Niccolò Taglicozzi Canle, the church has a highly detailed wooden ceiling, unique papier-mâché choir lofts, a shimmering organ, candlelit shrines, and important Luca Giordano frescoes of scenes of the life of St. Gregory, whose relics were brought to Naples in the 8th century from Byzantium. From the convent's cloister (entrance off the small square up the road—buzz on the entry
phone) you can gain access to the nuns' gallery shielded by 18th-century jalousies and see the church from a different perspective. Other areas off the cloister, such as the Salottino della Badessa—generally not on view, as this is still a working convent—are preserved as magnificent 18th-century interiors.