Once upon a time, all classic art and archaeological finds throughout Italy would pour into Rome. Whether because of wealthy Roman aristocrat buyers or foreign collectors or the Popes seeking to glorify the church or Rome, pieces were removed from context in which they were found and placed on exhibit in private or public collections in the Eternal City.
Fortunately this process has stopped for the most part, and new finds will more often than not stay in the areas where they’re found, ending up in the lesser known, smaller yet no less eye-opening and worthy provincial museums.
It might take a bit more effort to go see such pieces in “out of the way” places, but the reward of visiting an archaeological site one day, and then seeing the pieces that were found there in the town’s museum the next day is definitely worth it. Especially when the towns, the sites, the museums, the tickets, the walking trail systems, and holiday spots are fully integrated in a professional, yet easily usable and enjoyable way as they are in the Piombino and Populonia coastal area right in front of Elba. Bravi!
One such magnificent piece of art exhibited in the small yet extraordinary Archaeological Museum in Piombino that will take your breath away is this 2nd century B.C., 6′ x 4′ feet mosaic removed for safekeeping from a patrician villa in the Etruscan acropolis of Populonia.
It shows all the fish that fishermen pull up in their nets even today from the Tyrrhenian Sea. (It even depicts a dramatic scene of fishermen and their boat being struck by a large wave.) In order of appearance below, (I hope I identified them correctly), we have scorfano, triglia, granchio, mazzancolla, dentice, rombo, seppia, and spigola.. all the local fish are represented. This piece is fitting today, as Tuesday is fish day at the neighborhood markets throughout Italy.
Makes you wonder whether the Etruscans and Romans also had fixed days each week when the fishermen brought in and sold their catch.