It’s fitting, then, that the partially finished passageway (the king died before its completion) served as air-raid shelters during World War II. If you tour the tunnels, you’ll find personal items like hairbrushes, toys and beds. During the massive cleanup after the war, the tunnel became a graveyard for impounded cars and motorcycles along with other rubble and debris.
Side note: statues of different periods have been discovered in the tunnel, including a discarded funeral monument in honor of Captain Aurelio Padovani, founder of the Neapolitan fascist party.
In an Indiana Jones twist of fate, geologists working in the tunnel in 2007 uncovered a walled passage that led to another access to the air-raid shelter. Seventy-five steps and a tight staircase leads to a room behind the church in the piazza. It was sealed up and forgotten in the ’70s before the rediscovery in 2007, when the scores of vintage, rusted-out automobiles, scooters and motociclette.
Now restored and open for tours on weekends, Galleria Borbonica can be traversed on foot or you can opt to go caving or rafting through the antique cisterns.
At the site where Mussolini’s government built a bomb shelter and wartime hospital, two Italian words are scrawled on the wall by some brave soul: Noi vivi, or “we live.” And here, hidden from sunlight and enduring in all of their glory, these ghostly, rusted cars live forever.