The Museum revealing the foundation of the city of "Sorrentum"
The heritage preserved in the Territorial Archaeological Museum of the Sorrento Peninsula, dedicated to the foundation and development of the ancient city of "Sorrentum", draws a map to go back in time and relive the existence of those ancient peoples who thrived in these places two millennia before the year 0.
History of the Museum
Housed in the rooms of Villa Fondi de Sangro and named after the famous archaeologist and scholar Georges Vallet (1922 - 1994), the Territorial Archaeological Museum of the Sorrento Peninsula was created to house the documentation and results of the excavation campaigns carried out in the Sorrento Peninsula.
The aim of these excavations was to reconstruct the phases of settlement and transformation of the Sorrento territory, from prehistory to the Roman age and in the overall context of ancient Campania.
Located on a picturesque cliff overlooking the sea above Marina di Cassano, the neoclassical villa that houses the museum was built in 1840 by Giovanni De Sangro (1804 - 1871), prince of Fondi, entrepreneur and later senator of the Kingdom of Italy.
Purchased in the 1990s by the municipality of Piano di Sorrento, the villa and its park were converted into a museum thanks to restoration work by the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Caserta. The inauguration took place on 17 July 1999.
In the hall on the ground floor, dominated by the great staircase, the funeral tomb (mnema) of the mythical founder of Sorrento, King Liparos, consisting of four lions and a tufa stele, has been reconstructed. Also on the ground floor, a monumental statue of Demeter and a mosaic floor found in marina di Puolo are on display.
Room 1, on the first floor, is dedicated to the excavations carried out in the town of Piano di Sorrento, in the Trinità locality, and relating to a settlement of the Gaudo culture (2nd millennium BC) and the archaic and classical necropolis of Massalubrense (S. Agata sui due Golfi, Loc. “Deserto”), Vico Equense (via Nicotera) and Sorrento.
The objects on display relate to the excavation campaigns carried out at S. Agata sui due Golfi by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Napoli from 1994 to 1997 and at Vico Equense in the 1980s, as well as a selection of bronzes from the 1966 excavation campaign which have recently been restored.
Of particular interest in this room are the finds from tomb no. 2 at S. Agata, dated to the 6th century BC, of which a reconstruction is proposed, and the Attic red-figure ceramics from the Vico Equense grave site, dated to the first half of the 5th century BC.
The passageway between rooms 1 and 2 is dedicated to cults and inscriptions, with a selection of material from the sanctuary of Athena on the Punta della Campanella, together with a cast of the inscription carved on the rock dated to the first half of the 2nd century BC. Also on display in this passage is a splendid marble head from the 6th century BC, also from Massa Lubrense.
Room 2 on the first floor is dedicated to the formation of the city of "Surrentum", presenting, for the first time, an updated topographical map with the location of all the samplings and structures that have emerged in the latest urban archaeology work carried out from 1993 to the present day, with a selection of materials from the city.
The necropolises in Sorrento which have, up until now, been recognised exclusively thanks to de-contextualised material that found its way into private collections, are scientifically illustrated here thanks to the work of the very recent excavation campaign that started in 1998 outside Porta Parsano and is still in progress.
The tuff trapezoid depicting a male herm, "provincial" inversion of sophisticated models, is of exceptional expressiveness, relevant to the funeral dining area of the colombarium from the early Imperial age, that surfaced in the necropolis.
Among the findings from the Roman phase are a selection of anthropomorphous columellas as well as a display of glass and terracotta unguentariums, while the IV century BC phase is represented by a vast collection of interesting red figure vases, with a particularly note-worthy fishplate.
The same room contains a section dedicated to maritime villas with marble reliefs and capitals from the villa of Capo di Massa on contrada Villazzano, the scale model of the so-called villa of Pollio Felice and, moving down to the ground floor, to the left of the stairway is the massive marble statue found in 1971 in Sorrento in the area of the current-day Royal hotel, that is on display for the first time. Depicting a female figure, the statue belonged to a villa from the Imperial age. One new addition to the museum are the two funeral statues from Via Nicotera di Vico Equense dating back to the I century A.D.
Outside, in the park, half of the magnificent mosaic nymphaeum from one of the Roman maritime villas, found in Massalubrense in Marina della Lobra, has been reconstructed.