25.02.2020 - 26.02.2020 14 °C
Leaving Sorrento we caught the train to Napoli which is just over an hour away and then swapped to the metro line to arrive at Montesanto. Our apartment is a five minute walk from the train station and at the corner of our street the road meets another metro interchange station point and Funicular.
Naples is a big and bustling city and we are living in the heart of noisy suburbia - bells tolling, people, sirens, motorbikes and some cars. The location and sunny weather provide the perfect launch pad to visit the historic centre of town with its main streets filled with food, souvenirs, gelato, bars, cafes and narrow streets with washing hanging down the colourful buildings and pedestrians and motorbikes sharing the tight space. These streets are interspersed with piazzas, churches, shrines, the universities and even a bust of Punchinella.
While there is a lot to see in Naples, our priority was the Naples National Archeological museum which houses artefacts from Pompeii, Herculaneum along with the Farnese collection of statues and gems. Many of the statutes were formerly located in Rome and the piece de resistance, the Farnese bull were at the Caracalla thermal baths. We were also quite impressed with Hercules who also stood at the baths, as was Napoleon who apparently tried on three occasions unsuccessfully to move the statue to France. Many of the statutes are Greek copies mostly in the first AD, including a copy of Doryphoros who is said to be the most perfect male proportioned with classical features and realism.
On the first floor, you walk into rooms of the glorious Pompeii mosiacs in their full colour and glimpses of life and thoughts 2000 years ago. This floor also includes a secret room, which is filled with erotica mosiacs, anatomy shaped lamps, charms, wind chimes, pottery and sign posts from Pompeii. In particular the erect male anatomy was seen as a symbol of good luck, and fertility while also some were used to point the way to brothels.
On the upper floor there is a model of Pompeii built in the 1800’s, paintings from the walls of Pompeii houses and artefacts from everyday life. These artefacts were numerous and amazing, surgical tools, musical instruments, blown glassware, silver dining sets, baking items and urns. The faded colour on some of these items were still beautiful and you can only imagine how they looked in their heyday. While the wealthy used silver and bronze items in daily life, ceramic mass production enabled common folk to also demonstrate their upcoming status in society.
This floor also contains an exhibition of oceanic findings from shipwrecks, dive excursions and fisherman. There is also the magnificent marble Farnese Atlas kneeling with a celestial sphere which is the oldest surviving pictorial record of western constellations and is exquisitely detailed.
In the final room there are water features, statutes including those with painted eyes including the dancing daughters who once stood on Palatine Hill in Rome.
A bonus on the way out was the exhibition showcasing a reproduction of the environment and cave paintings from the Lascaux caves in France dating back to Palaeolithic times. It was amazing to stand in the dark and see the outline of the animals reflect in the dark.
Definitely a recommended way to spend a few hours if you are interested.