Vases and Views in Tarquinia and Beyond

At a certain point in the day, although your feet and legs are sore from trolling around the tombs of the necropolis, you look into a room of a museum, “just to see.” Yes, you’re on your way to the exit and you have to drive along winding Italian roads to the B&B thirty miles away and you’d like to get there before sundown because there will be very few roadsigns. Indeed, it will be dark and predictably you will often get lost on the road to Ronciglione, but that is several hours from now. Right now, there is this  room full of vases in the Etruscan museum in Tarquinia’s Palazzo Vitelleschi. 

  

  

Wandering along, dutifully considering the red figure warriors killing each other, you notice a small note that says “Eros” in another case. Huh, what’s this?

   
    
 
Well, it looks like everyone is having fun! And it would be untoward of me to linger, even though the two guards are paying no attention to me, engrossed as they are in some lively conversation about a mutual friend. I interrupt to ask Dove e l’uscita?, and am about to leave, when I see there’s another room. My feet, the hour, the road ahead, etc., and yet I’m a sucker for big rooms like this, so in I go.

   
 
And SO glad I did!  Because there in the first case is the famous stamnos depicting Europa and the Bull, by the Berlin Painter. I said this in an earlier post, but to come across an unexpected masterpiece really is like seeing a movie star on the street.  Ah, so this is how you live!  How many times have I shown this very image to my students? I had no idea that Europa lived here in an Italian palace.

The thing about palaces is that they’re not designed to be museums in fact, and the rest of the collection is in the open-air courtyard and upstairs … many, many stairs.

   
    
 But at the very top, there is this splendid room with a view over the medieval walls of Tarquinia out toward the Mediterranean. The sun is still high enough, I think. There’s plenty of time to linger before I must get back on the hilly highway to Rociglione, where I will arrive just in time for the sunset.

   
   

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About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
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