The Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape of the Metropolitan Area of Naples, in close collaboration with the Regional Directorate of Museums of Campania, the Command of Cultural Heritage Protection of the Carabinieri Corps of Naples, and the Command of the Underwater Carabinieri Corps of Naples, recovered valuable archaeological evidence from the sea at the Grotta Azzurra on the island of Capri.

Commissioner Mariano Nuzzo participated in the operation along with the archaeology officer in charge of protection, Dr. Luca di Franco, and the supervisors of underwater archaeology, Dr. Simona Formola and technical assistant Carlo Leggieri. From the Regional Directorate of Museums of Campania, the director of the Grotta Azzurra Museum, Dr. Pierfrancesco Talamo, and Dr. Luana Toniolo were present.

The synergistic cooperation between the involved institutions made possible an effective and coordinated intervention for the recovery of these important artifacts, which will contribute to the knowledge and appreciation of the local archaeological heritage.

Following a thorough investigation carried out based on reports received by the Superintendence over the years and the in-depth study of archival documentation, the Superintendence decided to conduct surveys on the seabed of the Grotta Azzurra, which in antiquity was a sumptuous imperial nymphaeum, linked to the Roman villa of Gradola located higher up, whose remains are still clearly visible even from the sea.

The new surveys have allowed the identification of some carved stone blocks on the seabed, presumably part of the sculptural furniture of the imperial nymphaeum.

In 1964 and 1975, Superintendent Alfonso de Franciscis had already recovered five statues and numerous fragments depicting Neptune and his retinue of sea monsters, the Tritons. The discovery was hailed by all the newspapers of the time, and the recovery was acclaimed by a large crowd.

The five sculptures are now exhibited at the Grotta Azzurra Museum in the Casa Rossa of Anacapri and can be admired in a renewed exhibition set up by the Ministry of Culture and the municipality of Anacapri.

On February 5, 2024, the thread of this long and beautiful history was reconnected: departing from the port of Naples on the patrol boat of the Carabinieri Diving Unit of Naples, Commissioner Nuzzo and officials from the Ministry of Culture set course for Capri.

In front of the Blue Grotto, divers spotted one of the sculptural artifacts already identified by the archaeologists of the Superintendence, part of a marble statue, and with the help of two balloons, they brought the block out of the cave through the opening about 3 meters deep.

From here, the discovery was hoisted onto the patrol boat and taken to the port of Capri. Thanks to the support and always fruitful collaboration with the Municipality of Capri and Anacapri, the artifact was temporarily transported to the Town Hall building awaiting transfer to the Certosa di San Giacomo, where it will be restored, studied, and ultimately valorized.

Today’s recovery refers to a block with a shape, possibly belonging to the base of a statue.

Commissioner Mariano Nuzzo has stated: The protection of the archaeological sites of Capri, along with study and research, is the first step towards better appreciation of cultural heritage, usable and accessible to all.


Sources

Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per l’Area Metropolitana di Napoli


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