12 October 2009

Riace bronzes 'theft'

If you are planning a trip to Reggio Calabria over the winter, and hoping to see the famous Greek statues known as the Riace Bronzes, call ahead first. According to the Repubblica, a political storm is whipping up over mysterious 'restoration work' which is sending the statues to Rome at the beginning of November. The rest of Reggio's museum is closing for restoration work itself; the fear of locals is that their statues, the city's greatest pride, will never be returned to them.

Italy is prone to conspiracy theories - which often turn out to be justified by genuine conspiracies, as in the case of Serie A match-fixing - and the suspicion is that the Riace Bronzes will finish up in one of Rome's vast museum collections, with mere copies being sent back to Reggio.

I witnessed for myself this summer the pride of the people of Reggio Calabria in their archaeological museum; as several bus passengers contended to offer me directions. The bronze statues are the most important historic and artistic objects in the whole of the Calabria region. Although they may not receive as many visitors as they deserve, the area will lose an important tourist attraction, while Rome hardly needs additional exhibits.
> Reggio Calabria
> A travel itinerary down the coast through Calabria and Reggio

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