The Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino in Nocera Inferiore: the story of a glorious past

by Roberto Iossa

In 1965 the Convent of Sant'Antonio a Nocera Inferiore was chosen to host the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino. Inside it began to merge numerous and interesting finds that emerged from the Archaeological excavations in the sites of the ancient Roman city of Nuceria Alfaterna and from protohistoric tombs.

The territory of the current Agro Nocerino-Sarnese can boast in fact of a glorious history that has its roots in ancient times, even preceding the Latin culture. And the Convent of Sant'Antonio itself enjoys considerable prestige among historians. It was built at the end of 13th century at the behest of Filangieri family at the foot of the small hill of S. Francesco (reason why it was originally dedicated to him and only later changed its name). The complex constitutes one of the most interesting expressions of Gothic architecture in southern Italy, although over the centuries it has undergone several alterations.

Museo Archeologico Provinciale dell'Agro Nocerino
Prospectus of the convent of S. Antonio in Nocera Inferiore which houses the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino

But in this story we prefer to focus on the container rather than on the container content, accompanying you inside the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino: walking through its rooms, admiring his interesting exhibits, savoring its rich history of famous people and noteworthy events.

Museo Archeologico Provinciale dell'Agro Nocerino
Inscription placed at the entrance of the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino

The heritage kept by the Provincial Archaeological Museum

Funeral finds, pottery with classical shapes coming from Samnite, Etruscan, Roman and Greek excavations; funerary stele; evidence of tombs dating back to'Bronze Age (the oldest preserved artifacts!): there is really a lot to admire on the two floors on which the complex develops. The rich heritage has been built up over time both through the contribution of private individuals and that of local authorities. Here is kept a figured sarcophagus from the III century AD in white marble of great prestige, coming from the Vescovado di Nocera district.

Museo Archeologico Provinciale dell'Agro Nocerino
Archaeological finds exhibited in the first room of the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino

One of the most valuable pieces of the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino is undoubtedly the "Athena promachos”Coming from the theater of Walls (found in 1958), built by Brass, seventh Roman emperor as well as husband of Poppea, and signed by him. It is therefore possible to date it to 1st century B.C But interesting is also a modeled clay mask representing a river divinity. He is the personification of the Sarno River which flows in this territory and which is documented in numerous classical texts: from Strabone to Anneo Lucano passing through Plino the Elder, Stazio and Silio Italico.

Museo Archeologico Provinciale dell'Agro Nocerino
The statue of Athena commissioned by Emperor Ottone, placed in the upper rooms of the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino

The picture gallery: a jewel to be rediscovered

The last rooms temporarily host an interesting picture gallery with works that start from 1500, enclosing an important nucleus of paintings belonging to the school of Andrea from Salerno. Undoubtedly the most precious painting is the oil on panel of the "Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria“, Made in 1519 and donated by the artist himself to the convent, as evidenced by the inscription in the center. A copy of the "Madonna of the Duke of Alba" Of Raffaello (the original is kept at the National Gallery of Washington). Made about a century later, it is proof that until 1600 the original painting was found in this territory, presumably near the convent of the Olivetans.

Museo Archeologico Provinciale dell'Agro Nocerino
Andrea from Salerno, "Mystical marriage of St. Catherine of Alexandria“, 1519. Kept in the picture gallery located inside the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino

The Provincial Archaeological Museum of Agro Nocerino it is a small reality in terms of size and notoriety, but no less important for this. Definitely worth a visit (for more free!) and certainly once you reach the foot of the long staircase of the convent of S. Antonio you will have the impression of a time travel, to discover stratified cultures that represent our past.

Sources

  •   G. Salierno - V. Piccolo, The picture gallery (and other preserved works) in the convent of S. Antonio, Nocera Inferiore, MediaCom, 1997

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