Campania off the beaten path 2: Salerno’s Provincial Archaeological Museum

Sara Anna Iannone | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Even though I was born and raised near Salerno, I’ve visited the Salerno’s Provincial Archaeological Museum only recently. Even worse, the first time I’ve heard about its existence was a couple of months ago. Shame on me! I didn’t know what I was missing! However, apart from my personal faults, I have to say that, in my humble opinion, the place is not properly promoted. It’s a pity because Salerno’s Provincial Archaeological Museum treasures a gem whose beauty and history deserve to be put a spotlight on…

For me, one of the perks of Salerno’s Provincial Archaeological Museum is that is small. I don’t know about you but huge museums cause me anxiety. I prefer smaller, quieter one where I can truly appreciate the artworks and find and properly understand their value and beauty. Salerno’s museum is structured on two levels: on the ground floor you can enjoy the finds from the whole province of Salerno, while the first floor is dedicated to the Etruscan archaeological site of Fratte. The first floor also houses what is rightly considered the pride of the museum: the bronze head of Apollo.

The history of the head of Apollo is extraordinary without any doubt. Like the more famous (and more complete) Riace Bronzes, the head of Apollo too was found underwater. More precisely, on December 2nd of 1930, the head got caught in the nets of some fishermen. It's an invaluable original dating from the first half of the first century BC (even though many scholars don’t agree on this date and prefer to shift to the first century CE). The story of the head’s finding inspired the great Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti who composed a poem about it called “La pesca miracolosa” (roughly translatable as The Lucky Fishing).

If you’re in Salerno, you should definitely go see the Provincial Archaeological Museum and its head of Apollo! Beside the museum, you’ll also have the opportunity to stroll down Salerno’s Medieval area made of narrow streets , incredible graffiti and much more!

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