Postcard from Naples, Italy: Frisky gods frolicked in the buff

Artemis of Ephesus, Goddess of Fertility, 2nd Century

In the mid-1700s, Charles III of Bourbon (1716-1788), King of Naples, began exploring the towns buried by Vesuvius and combined some of those finds with works of art he moved from palaces in Rome and Parma he inherited from his mother, Elisabeth Farnese (1692-1766), Queen of Spain. His son, Ferdinando IV (1751-1825), moved the treasures into a building that originally was a 16th-century riding school and later the university. Today the structure serves as the National Archaeology Museum or Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN).

The mosaics from Pompeii were my favorite part of the museum, but, unfortunately the galleries containing the largest mosaics were closed temporarily for renovation. No photos appear here of the outside of MANN because it was completely covered by scaffolding, possibly removed by now.

While ancient Romans favored wearings togas, tunics, stolas and pallas, many of their gods tended to frolic shamelessly in a bacchanalian existence, cavorting and coupling in fashions far from puritanical.

This is evident throughout the impressive museum, but even more so in the Gabinetto Secreto, or Secret Cabinet. In this gallery clearly marked with a warning as to its mature content, one finds the more pornographic-seeming artifacts from Pompeii and erotic objects of the Borgia Collection. The only one of the above images shot in the Secret Cabinet is that of the enormously endowed god Priapus, kind of an X-rated scarecrow threatening evil-doers with rape.

Postcards from Rome, Italy: Poseurs hanging out on almost every corner

Not surprising, Rome is well populated with sculpture.

Some offering comfort and protection. Some looking, quite frankly, bored. Many scantily clad.

Here are some shots of a few we encountered rambling around her streets.

 

Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Statuesque silhouettes against the sky

It’s hard to resist focusing on Guanajuato’s landmark people perched up high. Muses grace the roofline of Teatro Juarez. Father Hidalgo, famed for his grito igniting the revolt against Spain, stands near the city’s presa, or dam.

The giant statue of El Pipila lords over the city. As pipila means a female turkey, the nickname given to Juan Jose de los Reyes Martínez Amaro (1782–1863) probably was not meant as flattery. But El Pipila earned respect as a hero of the Mexican Revolution when he strapped a large stone on his back for protection against weapons above to storm the Spaniards holed up in Alhondiga de Granaditas. He slathered the granary’s large wooden door with tar and set it ablaze, allowing the citizens of Guanajuato to overtake the forces inside.

The woman representing peace who presides over Plaza de la Paz, the city’s main plaza, was commissioned by President Porfirio Diaz in 1903. Her peaceful reign soon was interrupted. President Diaz did not care for his opponent in the 1910 election so he locked him up in jail. When Diaz declared himself victorious, the citizenry sensed the election results were rigged. Diaz was forced from power, and years of civil war marked by frequent violent changes in presidents followed.

Wish the threat of locking opponents up and talking about rigged elections did not sound familiar.