An unusual shop in the center of Naples is the Ospedale delle Bambole - the Doll Hospital. The compact 'clinic' is tucked into one of the characteristic narrow streets of the Spaccanapoli district and has been a triage ward for sick and ailing dolls for more than a century. Opened in 1895, it is now tended by the original owner's great-granddaughter. Broken dolls are sent from far-flung places for the 'doctors' reconstructive touch. Porcelain and plastic, rag dolls and teddy bears, even saints statues are to found lined up on the shelves waiting to be restored.

The medicines used are glues and paints and disinfectants; the skilled surgeons work their trade and bring them back good health. It is a bit macabre to see the various body parts and pieces -a cabinet of heads, a bowl of eyeballs, for example -along with the dolls themselves, but also interesting to observe how they are restored.

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Address in Naples:

Via San Biagio dei Librai, 81 .

Ph. (+39) 081-203-067.

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