Under the gaze of the magnificent Riace Bronzes in Piazza Paolo Orsi visitors to the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria are hosted in evocative exhibition itineraries of the “welcoming exhibitions”, which present finds from the museum collection in always new and fascinating thematic contexts. They are precious opportunities to promote the great figures of Calabrian culture.
On Thursday, June 20th, at 5.30 pm, the opening of the exhibition “Diego Vitrioli. A refined collector in nineteenth-century Calabria”, curated by the director Carmelo Malacrino. Until July 21st.
The project was created in collaboration with the cultural association “Diego Vitrioli”, to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the illustrious poet and Latin scholar from Reggio, a gold medal for poetry, compared to Giovanni Pascoli for virtue and literary style. Pope Leo XIII called him the “prince of men of letters” and established a chair for him in the Vatican. Many of his poems are dedicated to the seductive mystery of the Strait of Messina, starting from the poem “Xiphias” by which he won the prestigious Certamen poeticum Hoeufftianum at just 25 years, telling the thrill of swordfish fishing.
Vitrioli boasted a rich archaeological collection, in particular of figured vases, together with other finds, such as terracotta figurines, clay lamps and even some fragments of mosaic inserted in the floors of the rooms of the building. Little is known about the events of this exceptional heritage after his death. Many finds were lost along with the building that housed them in the great earthquake of 1908 that destroyed Reggio and Messina. Of the rich collection there remains only a splendid red-figure bell crater, dating back to the 4th century BC, kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria and exhibited on this occasion for the first time.
The crater has, on one side, a scene with a maenad dressed in a ruffled chiton and a naked young man sitting on a rock. On the opposite side are depicted two barefoot young men wearing a cloak, in a specular position, one leaning towards the other.
“The idea of this exhibition was born precisely from the presence of this vase in the Museum’s deposits, identified during the reorganization activities”, Malacrino explains. “The archaeological collection of Vitrioli, documented by numerous images and letters, is central to the exhibition that we propose. We have decided to make the most of his status as a scholar of antiquity, yet to be explored”.
Among the exhibits, there are the gold medal received as a Prize for Certamen and an intense and moving portrait of Vitrioli on paper, owned by the family.