Prior to going to Naples’ Archaeological Museum, I had heard all the things you hear about anything in Naples: that it was chaotic, confusing, and half-closed, (apparently I’m into alliteration today). But what I found when I visited was none of those things and mostly surprise wonderfulness and unsurprising smut.
First, did you know that Naples has a metro? It’s little and doesn’t go many places, but one of the places it does go is directly to the museum. which makes navigating the chaos of the Neapolitan streets so easy. There was no line to buy tickets and it was hardly crowded at all., Victory.
But who wants to discuss practical details when there are things like the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese Bull (supposedly the largest sculpture recovered from antiquity), and the Alexander Mosaic??!? Those three alone are worth the relatively modest admission price.
But of course the big draw for the Archaeological Museum is the Secret Cabinet, which houses all the erotic art spirited away from the brothels of Pompeii and the dining tables of nobles. It is in these few rooms where you realize that the ancients had a seriously goofy sense of humor. Sure there are a lot of porn-y frescoes, mosaics, and sculptures depicting all sorts of types of sexuality (all genders, all numbers of people, animals, self-love), so it might not be appropriate for pearl-clutchers, but so much of it is just so absurdly silly, like oil lamps completely composed of penises, that it’s really mostly just goofy. Love it.