Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Emperor's Outdoor Dining Cave: Sperlonga, Italy

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Cave at Sperlonga. The fish pond and remains of the imperial dining room in the foreground


Matthew and I successfully met up with the group from the Vergilian Society program at 9 AM. The group made stops at Terracina and at Sperlonga on the way to Cumae. I especially liked the museum at Sperlonga, which is suspected to be the site of one of the Emperor Tiberius' villas. There are some Hellenistic-style statures there on the theme of Odysseus, including a nice reproduction of a statue group of Odysseus and his men blinding the Cyclops, Polyphemus. The statues were originally in a triclinium set in a cave, or spelunca in Latin. The name, Sperlonga, might actually be a corruption of the Latin word for cave. Sperlonga has a beautiful beach within sight of the museum and cave, but we didn't have time to go there. Sigh!

Exploring the interior of the cave, the original location of the museum's statues

Upper-class Romans liked to grow fish in ponds on their estates

A view of the dining area from inside the cave. Tourists on the right give an idea of the scale.

We can tell from these holes on the dining platform that the Romans raised lampreys, a delicacy, here

Another exterior view of the cave at Sperlonga

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