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Villa Livia: Museum and International Center for Numismatics


Villa Livia (photo, above) is a Neapolitan villa located on the street, Parco Grifeo, above the via Corso Vittorio Emanuele, in the Chiaia section of Naples. It was built in 1931 in the style known in Italian as Liberty and in English by the French term, Art Nouveau. That style was already somewhat of an anachronism in Italy, and the building was just a few years ahead of the large Fascist buildings of the mid-1930s that, to this day, still dominate nearby areas on the same street. The villa is at about the halfway point between sea-level and the Vomero section of Naples. The villa was built at the behest of Domenico de Luca Montalto, the husband of duchess Livia Serra di Cardinale, great-granddaughter of Gaetano Filangieri, Jr. and was donated in 1960 to the Filangieri Civic Museum of Naples. The villa is now an adjunct of that museum, the main premises of which are in the downtown section of the city, some distance away. There was no particular link between the two sites or collections of artifacts, and one assumes that the donation of the entire villa and its contents was because the donor family had no heirs and that the duchess was related to the Filangieri family. The donors specified that the contents of the villa should not be broken up or removed and that the furnishings be viewed, as far as possible, in the original settings; the goal was to have a casa museo (a home museum) and not just a building with antiques in it. The premises of the villa are spacious, set-off from the outside world, and "period" enough to serve occasionally for on-location shooting for film companies.





On the premises of the Villa Livia is this lovely console table (i.e. meant to be located against a wall) from the 19th century and built in the workshop of the Della Valle Bros. in Naples. Console means 'bracket' in French; the term console thus stems from earlier versions of such “wall tables” that had only two legs in front and had to be fastened to the wall at the back.




On display on the premises are exquisite furnishings from the 1700s and 1800s (image, above) including items of majolica tile, porcellan, and chandeliers from Murano. The art collection holds works by Abraham Brueghel, Philipp Roos, Johann Heinrich Roos, Micco Spadaro e Consalvo Carelli. Since 1975, part of the premises have also housed the International Center for Numismatic Studies with its 21,000-piece collection of ancient coins, including ones from Greece, Rome, Magna Grecia, (the Greek cities in Italy), Etruria, and native Italic tribes. The organization has a 4,000-volume library, hosts periodic conventions and publishes a numismatic journal.


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