The civic museum, located in the upper part of the city of Termini Imerese, was founded in 1873 and was designed for the collection of the artworks previously held between the nearby Senate Palace and the Liciniana Library. It was named after the archeologist Baldassare Romano who discovered the amphitheater and the Curia of the old city and who was responsible for the original set up of the museum and the artworks acquisition also by private citizens. We can definitely assert that the museum was created thanks to people’s contribution and donations according to the spirit of the time. In 1300, the building, made up of different sections, boused the hospital of SS. Trinità and the small Church of San Michele, with a wood truss ceiling and frescoes by Niccolò da Pettineo depicting scenes from the life of Christ. In 1589, the hospital managed by the Fatebenefratelli Foundation, was widened  with a newannexe and a portico. During its years-long closure, the building was unfortunately subjected to heavy thefts: a nativity scene of red coral, ivory and mother-of-pearl dating back to the XVIII century and the mosaic floor present  in the bathroom of the old Thermae’s Palace of Agatino. In 1990 it was reopened to the public. The new arrangment of the museum includes three separate sections: the archeological section on the groundfloor, the historic artistic section with a picture and plaster casts gallery by the local sculptor Filippo Sgarlata on the first floor, and the nineteenyh-century section in the rooms adjacent to the garden. The first section has always been divided into four subsection: the prehistoric section  comprehends all the handigrafts and stone tools dating back from the Upeer Paleolithic to Copper Age and the Bronze, according to the classification made by the paleontologist  Giuseppe Patiri, that weere found in caves and bollous such as those of the famous “Riparo del Castello”, “geraci” and “Puleri”. Just beyond the rooms showing the remains of the colony of Himera and the numismastic collection, there is the big ball reproducting the ancient Roman Forum correspondent to the present areas of the Cathedral square and the Belvedere. Here is the section dedicated to the Roman Thermae, elevated to the rank of colony and invested with the title of “civitas Splendidissima” by Emperor Augustus, with its beadless statues dressed in togas standing out on their pedestals in the magnificence of their draperies. Almost all of them were unearthed in the Forum area. One statue in the particular was discovered in the place called “the house of Stenius and is supposed to represent this distinguished man, mentioned by Cicero in his Verrem, urbo fought against the embezzlements of the Roman praetor Gaius Verres. This section shows epigraphs, part of cornices and old pipes of Cornelio Aquaeduct together with two beautiful female portraits of different epochs, one of which depicts Drusilla and still keeps some colour traces. Several funeral item registred by type and date: lamps, terracotta figurines, unguentaria and also finest glass alabastra will eventually conduce the visitor to an elegant marble portal, moved to the museum from the Church of the Gancia, leading to the chapel of San Michele Arcangelo which still holds traces of frescoes on the walls and introduces to the historic artistic section of the museum. Here there are an anonymous wood sculpture representing the Trinity as a Pietà, a unique iconography in Sicily because the three holy figures of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have the same aspect and are covered by the same cloak, and a wonderful triptych by Gaspare Da Pesaro (1453) representing the Virgin and the Child among the angels with the Saints John the Baptist and Michael the Archangel. From the chapel we reach the picture gallery. Three movable boards placed in the middle of the room allow: the visitors to follow a chronological tour among paintings by Sicilian artist from the 16th to the 17th century. At the entrance, there is the Flemish painting (16th century) reproducing the School of Cologne style and representing the Annunciation on a dark background, the Holy Spirit floats in the shape of a dove between the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, severely dressed with her flowing hair. Most of the artworks here belong to the artist Vincenzo La Barbera from Termini Imerese: great painter, architect and engineer who painted the “Sala del Magistrato” of the Senate Palace with frescoes reproducing stories of the city and whose paintings can be found all over the province of Palermo. One of his best paintinggs is the “Martyrdom of Saints agatha”: the scene, full of pathos, depict the Saint while tortured by her persecutors in a background rich in architectural stylistic details. Several other old pictures and furnishings can be admired before arriving in the plaster casts gallery wuth sculptures by the well-known local artist Filippo Sgarlata. The garden and its portico are an essential part of the museum. Here several archeological remains such as columns, sarcophagi and are collected and different cultural events take place. Through the garden we reach the third section exhibiting artworks coming from private collections, engravings by Gandolfo Ferrara reproducing the city ruins, portraits of famous local people like Baldassare Romano painted by ignazio De Michele, and a portraits of a nameless young man painted by Francesco Lojacono.

In the Church of the Misericordia, the restoring works have revealed several crypts containing bones and tombs of aristocrats from Termini. However, the most important discovery is the so-called “Lastra della pesca del tonno”/ Tuna fishing slab, an epigraph, reused as the cover of a crypt, which is the oldest representation of a tuna fishery (Tonnara).

Bibliografia:

  • “Termini Imerese ritorno alla Civitas Splendidissima” della Dott.ssa Manuela Sinatra; tratto da la rivista “I Beni Culturali” anno 2012
  • (*) Quest’ultimo paragrafo non è contenuto nell’articolo ed è stato gentilmente concesso ed aggiunto in seguito dalla Dott.ssa Manuela Sinatra