Looted Treasures Return Home

October 10, 2011 / Art & Archaeology
Aidone, Sicily

If you are on the lookout for stolen treasures, head to the remote town of Aidone in the center of Sicily.

After being looted and sold to the Metropolitan Museum, the stunning collection of 3rd century BC silver pieces known as the silver hoard of Morgantina are back in Sicily, and the exquisitely crafted bowls and drinking vessels are beautifully displayed in the tiny archaeological museum of Aidone. In the same museum you’ll find the Goddess of Morgantina, a Greek statue that also has a murky past, returning to Sicily after being looted and sold to the Getty Museum.

The story of the looting, sale and investigation of the Morgantina silver reads like a mystery novel, with an amusing final twist. A 1978 Italian lira coin was found in a hole that a confessed tombarolo – tomb robber – indicated as a place where he had participated in illegal excavations, and proved to be the most damning piece of evidence that the pieces were indeed stolen (and eventually sold to the Met by American dealer in antiquities Robert Hecht Jr., who has been charged with conspiring to deal in stolen artifacts.)

You can visit the scene of the crime at the nearby archaeological site of the ancient city of Morgantina – on a recent clear day made even more spectacular by the Mt. Etna volcano puffing in the background. If you are plotting to lug away any treasures, keep your change secured in your pocket!

Anita Iaconangelo

by Anita Iaconangelo

An expert on walking and culinary tours in many areas of Italy, with a special focus on Sicily, Anita Iaconangelo is the founder of Italian Connection Tours and author of the blog Anita’s Italy. She is currently at work on a book entitled Savoring Sicily: A Culinary Quest. 

8 Responses to “Looted Treasures Return Home”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks for the great note, Anita. It’s got it all, mystery, art, stunning scenery!

  2. Antoinette Quesada

    Great story, Anita! Thanks you! And how lucky you are to be living on that beautiful island!

  3. God only knows how much of the Treasurers of Italy are spread all over the world. It always makes me feel good when things find their way back
    to where they belong….Italy

  4. Ms. Jimmie Ellis

    Thank you for going something about Sicilia! This must be one of the few places I missed while there. This story is WONderful! Perhaps you could do a story on Castello Falconara or the US Navy base at Sigonella, near Catania. I have often wondered why they haven’t done something in Sicily. It seems that when you’re talking to Italian people in the US, so many of them say they’re ancestors were from Sicily. That’s why I wondered why nothing was done about Sicily. I just LOVE it! Thank you, again.
    Jimmie Ellis

  5. Super to have a window onto a fascinating area. Thanks for the Note, really enjoyed it.

  6. Elise Healy

    Brava Anita for a wonderful story! We REALLY want to visit Sicilia next year!

  7. Anita Iaconangelo
    Anita Iaconangelo

    Thanks everyone for your great response to my first post about this often bewildering place that is Sicily! Lots more to come. And Elise Healy, if you can visit Sicily int eh early spring (March or early April) the wildflowers are stunning and sites uncrowded (except Easter of course, but processions are wonderful)

  8. Mairin O'Mahony

    I was visiting Piazza Armerina the day the ‘loot’ was officially returned. All the dignitaries were there as part of their tour, along with hordes of schoolkids waving flags. We did not get to Morgantina but it’s definitely on the list fur the next trip.


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