Monday, December 05, 2011

TO SEE A FINE LADY


Ever since the Venere di Aidone or "Aidone Aphrodite" was brought back to Sicily in March, I've been longing to go and see her and on Saturday, reader, I made it.




Aidone, a town of 5,176 inhabitants, lies peacefully in the hills of the Province of Enna beyond Piazza Armerina.  Nearby is the Greek site of Morgantina, from which not only our "fine lady" but many other precious statues and objects have been stolen over the years.  The Venere was returned under an agreement signed by the Aidone and Getty Museums in 2007 and it must be emphasised that the Getty Museum's administrators have always denied acquiring the statue illegally. It was also in 2007 that experts proved that the statue was sculpted from "Ragusa stone".

Museo Archeologico di Aidone

My friend and I expected the little town to be crowded but, despite the presence of a goddess in their midst, life seemed to be going on as usual for the citizens and we were the only people in the specially renovated Museum.  

We passed through two rooms of other interesting antiquities before coming upon the Venere and in one of them a pair of smiling Acroliti, representing mother and daughter in Greek mythology, are displayed.  Only their faces, hands and feet remain but a mesh frame represents their bodies, they are seated and have been tastefully dressed.  These two figures were returned to the Museum from the US in 2009 and I have beside me a booklet which shows their faces as the box in which they travelled to Aidone was opened there.  I am sure that, upon their homecoming,  they are smiling more than usual. 



In the centre of a third room stands the Venere and I must say she is breathtaking:  So fluid are her robes, so majestic her pose and so calm her gaze that I have no doubt that this is a very confident goddess.  The body is of the famous Ragusan limestone though the exposed flesh is of marble and the lady's hair was probably of bronze.  Archaeologists have dated the statue to 420 - 410 BCE.

There are some who believe that she is not Venus but Demeter or her daughter Persephone, who both feature prominently in Greco-Sicilian myth, and there are others who believe she is Hera.  But I am sure she is a voluptuous Venus from an era before Botticelli brought misery upon Western women by portraying the goddess as tall, blonde, long-legged and slim.  

A reminder of our own era came as I spotted, among the ancient Greek hair ornaments, links from chains and fragments of pottery in one display case, a 100 lire coin from 1978.  This was found as illegally excavated land at Morgantina was being refilled.  In my opinion the Museum staff have done well to preserve it, for it is likely to be worth far more than all our euros soon!

On to lunch and, on the recommendation of the Museum staff, we repaired to the Vecchia Aidone restaurant:



The zucche must grow well in Aidone!



Would you like some grappa?



I hate ironing but I'm sure I would hate it even more if I had to use this!



There were homemade strozzapreti ["priest-strangling" pasta] with a sausage, wild fennel and tomato sauce



followed by veal stew for my companion



and rabbit braised in white wine with fennel and herbs for me:



Then there was a delicious mousse of fichi d'India [prickly pear] ....



...  all of which set us up nicely for our journey through the Enna rains back to Modica.  We were quiet as we travelled, thinking of "our" goddess and the tales she could tell.  Bentornata, dea.

12 comments:

Lee said...

I'd love to live behind a wall and door like that of the restaurant depicted!

I'm with you re the ironing, too!! I try to do as little as possible...and seem to succeed admirably!

Winchester whisperer said...

Lucky you - she is so beautiful!

rosaria said...

I didn't know this Venus, but I do recognize it from the old Getty House in Malibu. Glad she is back home!

James Higham said...

and I must say she is breathtaking

But you also appear to have taken her breath away.

rochambeau said...

It must have been breathtaking to see this fine lady! Aidone Aphrodite seems mysterious with part of her head missing. It is a miracle to behold this gorgeous sculpture that has still beautiful after all of these years. Glad she made it back home from the Getty. THANK you for sharing her and her beautiful robes with us!!

xox
Constance

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Me too, Lee. I also avoid ironing whenever I can. Hi, WW. Yes, she is. Hi, Rosaria. That is interesting. I'm so glad she is home, too. You are too kind, James. Thank you, Constance. Yes, her beauty is eternal.

Priest's Housekeeper said...

Wonderful sculpture, great photo's! I am so hungry just looking at that lovely food.

Rowena... said...

The museum and the meal afterwards was a complete delight to read about it. Welcome home indeed.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Thankyou Pat for taking us along for the ride it was both interesting and delicious food.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, PH. I'm glad you like her - and the food! Thanks, Rowena. Thank you, LindyLouMac.

elleeseymour said...

I can't believe you ate all that. And did you really eat the rabbit?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That's a normal lunch here, Ellee. Yes, but not all of it.

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