Friday, May 27, 2011

Mom's Visit

While I have taken my mom to some of the same places we've taken our other guests, like downtown Naples, Herculaneum, and Positano, we've also done some things new to me as well. Such as finally getting Ischia right (see previous post) and finally visiting the Baia Castle, home to an Archaeological Museum. The Baia Castle was a biggie to visit because we can see it from our house. And yet, nine months in this country with no visit to the museum that's almost literally in my backyard.

Baia was a big deal among the Roman emperor crowd. They had parties that would have put 1980s Hollywood bashes to shame. And they partied in villas that once lined the shore, but now provide some supposedly fascinating diving since they're all underwater after years of the earth shifting in this volcanic region. The museum holds some of the things brought up from those villas, but most of the exhibits we saw were treasures found at the Cuma settlement and other artifacts from the Campi Flegrei region. And yet again, I've seen how underutilized these amazing archaeological areas are. While there was a large crowd of schoolkids on a field trip, other than that group, Mom and I were it for visitors. We headed to a different floor than the kids and had the entire museum to ourselves. The exhibits have well done, English translations, they show a variety of ancient life (from a bit of jewelry to statues to funerary urns and beyond), and they even have a cast of an Egyptian wadi (like a grotto in the desert near water) that is home to about 80 pieces of early graffiti (dating to about 4th century BC). Why would that be in a somewhat obscure museum on a small peninsula in Italy? Because the oldest graffiti was done by the freed slave of one of Pozzuoli's wealthy residents, and he apparently discovered, by happenstance, a really awesome trade route between Ceylon and Aden. This was a big deal, and so, his graffiti lives on. So next time you see, carved into a wall, "John + Lara were here, 2gether 4ever" with a big heart around it, don't be so quick to turn up your nose. One day, that might be important.
Roman road sign that means "River ahead"
In other news, we visited Herculaneum (Ercolano), and I took loads more pics of the frescoes so I can begin creating my "Frescoes of Ercolano" album. While I enjoyed seeing Pompeii's frescoes in the Naples Archaeological Museum, there is really nothing like seeing frescoes and mosaics where they belong. Being able to walk on the same mosaic floor or sit in a house and stare at the fresco it's owner commissioned two millenia ago allows us to get a unique window into their lives and stories. We also took a daytrip to Positano, down on the Amalfi Coast. I love Positano in the off season, but it's even better now. We've had limited and expensive food options on our prior trips, but now, charming cafes are open all over the place, and all the shops are going full speed. We'd not left enough time to lounge about on the beach - maybe next week.
Mom on the Amalfi Coast

No comments:

Post a Comment