Il Museo Archeologico Nazionale d’ Abruzzo Villa Frigerj.
Chieti, a 60.000 souls city in central Italy, is a pre-roman settlement with legendary roots and today boasts two important archaeological museums. The National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo “Villa Frigerj”, an institute of the Sovraintendenza per i beni archeologici (from the Direzione Regionale per i beni culturali e paesaggistici dell’ Abruzzo of the Italian Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali), and the “La Civitella”, another Sovraintendenza institute that I will discuss in another post.
Chieti is a small beautiful city but it took several inquiries to find Villa Figerj, when eventually I reached it I was glad to have located it. The 1830 neoclassical villa hides one of Italy’s finest archeological museum.
The amazing early VIth century BCE statue of a warrior from Capestrano (Abruzzo) is the artifact for which the museum is renowned in all of Italy. It is now set in a room with several funerary stone ‘stelae’ (inscribed in a Vth c. BCE language) and the pieces indeed create a strong iconographic installation.
The “Warrior” room is in the ground floor but the exhibition of artifacts that form its context is located on the first floor (a detail not well notified to the visitor…). Once the first floor is reached, the visitor is treated to a fantastic landscape of fine archaeological findings from various Abruzzo settlements.
These ‘pre-roman’ societies, called “Vestini” (trasmontani and cismontani), Peligni, Marrucini and Carricini, are introduced to the visitor by several boards and maps, all well detailed and amazingly instructional. The archeological artifacts are grouped by population and sites and are sensibly documented and so carefully displayed as to truly enhance their appreciation.
The visitor, easily enticed to retrace his/her steps through this ten room exhibition floor, eventually has to descend the grand stairs where, at the ground floor, the exhibition continues. Here in the foyer, the icons of the “roman” legacy in Abruzzo are standing, a bit stiffly, against the walls, while a giant Hercules from the ~ Ist c. BCE is sitting (epitrapezios), without much grace, in a corner of the area.
The ground floor exhibition has two other components, an interesting numismatic collection (IVth c. BCE to XIXth c. AD) which is a jewel of coin display and a collection of quite interesting archeological findings donated by G.Pansa from Sulmona. The antiquities from the collection are distributed in several display cases but unfortunately only in a few cases crowding is avoided and it is quite obvious that the level of curatorial presentation noted upstairs has not yet addressed these items.
When I left the museum I realized that the satisfaction I felt was not only caused by having enjoyed a little cultural marvel but also by the fact that all I knew about it was its existence (both sentiments likely experienced by other visitors).