Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria

Top choice in Reggio Calabria

Over several floors in Southern Italy's finest museum you'll descend through millennia of local history, from Neolithic and Palaeolithic times through Hellenistic, Roman and beyond. The undoubted crown jewels are, probably, the world's finest examples of ancient Greek sculpture: the Bronzi di Riace, two extraordinary bronze statues discovered on the seabed near Riace in 1972 by a snorkelling chemist from Rome.

You'll have to stand for three minutes in a decontamination chamber to see the bronzes, but they're more than worth the wait. Larger than life, they depict the Greek obsession with the body; inscrutable, determined and fierce, their perfect form is more godlike than human. The finest of the two has ivory eyes and silver teeth parted in a faint Mona Lisa smile. No one knows who they are – whether human or god – and even their provenance is a mystery. They date from around 450 BC, and it's believed they're the work of two artists.

In the same room as the bronzes is the 5th-century-BC bronze Philosopher's Head, the oldest-known Greek portrait in existence. Also on display are impressive exhibits from Locri, including statues of Dioscuri falling from his horse.

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