Golden Day Sixty-One: Fun in Napoli’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale
You may think that stepping out of the lively action of Naples into the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Piazza Museo 19, Open 9-7, Closed Tues), would be a buzz kill, but you must give it a try. Here the classic beauty, deep sensuality, and naughty humor of this city is celebrated. It’s great to visit before you go to Pompeii or Herculaneum, to see the treasures those ancient villas once held.
The main ground floor room of the Museo is dominated by sculptures of the Farnese Bull and Hercules, but be sure to take a look at the Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks. It’s a Roman copy of the Greek Callipygian Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), who was revered for her attractive backside.
Upstairs, you’re going to love the mosaics and frescos. Some of my favorites are four small beautiful frescos from Stabia, featuring Medea, Flora, Leda, and Diana delicately floating in pale blue and green backgrounds.
Not to be missed is The Secret Room (Il Gabinetto Segreto), where erotic treasures dug up from party rooms of villas and brothels are displayed, focusing on fertility symbols (phalluses in all shapes and sizes) and lusty sex scenes. This series of room was a highlight for gentleman of The Grand Tour, and until recently could only be visited by special appointment.
And for dinner, I love slipping into the Ristorante Bellini (Via Costantinapoli 79/80, 081 459 774, closed Sunday). The house specialty, Linguine all Cartoccio (Linguine cooked in parchment with seafood), is divine.