153 – Sperlonga’s Archaeological Museum and Tiberius’ Grotto

If you take the scenic road that leads from Itri towards Sperlonga, as you begin your winding descent you’ll catch your first glimpse of the blue Tyrrenian Sea.  If you pull over and park in one of the panoramic stopping places you can look down on Sperlonga’s Roman archaeological site, Tiberius’ Grotto and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which is situated at the far end of Levante Beach.

P1130360pns

P1130361pns

Around the next few bends of the road you will get a really splendid view of beautiful Sperlonga in all it’s glory.

P1090256aapn

Even back in Roman times the beautiful Sperlonga area was a popular summer retreat for prosperous Romans and politicians.  Indeed the Emperor Tiberius is said to have had a sumptuous villa here, part of which consisted of a natural sea cave that was transformed into a lavishly decorated banqueting hall.

P1200644arb

Emperor Tiberius (42 B.C. – 37 A.D.)

Sperlonga28s

In the 1950’s, during the construction of the new coastal road, remains of various Roman buildings were unearthed. In the  grotto were found fragments of huge sculptures which once adorned the man-made fishponds at the mouth of the cave.   These remarkable groups of sculptures, dating from the 2nd century BC, depicted legendary scenes taken from Homer’s “Adventures of Odysseus”.  

Odysseus

Odysseus

Many of these mythological works of art have been painstakingly reconstructed in plaster and resin and can be seen in the Archaeological Museum in Sperlonga.  

These include “the horrific attack of Odysseus’ ship by the sea monster Scylla”, “Diomedes and Odysseus stealing the Palladion”, “Odysseus lifting the corpse of Achilles’s.  In my opionion the most stunning is the colossal group of statues depicting  “The Blinding of the drunken Cyclops Polyphemus by Odysseus and 3 of his companions”.

P1200629arb

 P1200623arb

P1200622arb

The museum also houses a host of other interesting Roman artifacts and treasures.

P1200619arb

P1200618arb

P1200620arb

 P1200641arb

P1200647arb

P1200646arb

P1200645arb

From the museum a path leads down, towards the actual Grotto of Tiberius, passing a large area of excavated Roman ruins.

Sperlonga38

Sperlonga35

You can read more about the Grotto of Tiberius at this previous blog post – 

https://trecancelle.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/grotta-di-tiberio/

and at our website all about Sperlonga:  

http://sperlonga.shapcott-family.com

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

Advertisements

One thought on “153 – Sperlonga’s Archaeological Museum and Tiberius’ Grotto

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s