The large hall on the first floor, overlooking the courtyard, was painted in 1935, after the restoration work which led to the opening of the National Archaeological Museum of Ferrara.
The choice to reproduce old maps in this room, which is the starting and closing room of the museum, was the idea of Salvatore Aurigemma, first director of the Museum. He felt that the territory of the Po delta and the Lagoons of Comacchio, where the drainage gave way to the discovery of the grand Etruscan necropolis, and where once flourished the community of ancient Spina, deserved a particular attention. On the frieze of the cornice that covers the entire hall, he had rewritten the verses of the ode to the city of Ferrara, composed by Giosué Carducci in 1895, and on the arches of the loggia a passage of Pliny the Elder regarding the mythical origins of Spina.
In the spirit of the time it was built, the grand decoration of the hall seems to contain a deeper purpose. It was in the middle of the Fascist era, when the recovery of history, particularly the myth of the ancient Roman Empire, served to legitimize the policies of the State. Ferrara, in an attempt to claim its descendence from Spina, was offered an excuse to emphasize the link with the Etruscans, the people from which the dynasty of the Tarquins, kings of Rome, originated.
The maps, drawn from historical cartography and atlases published between the sixteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century., although surpassed by contemporary historical cartography and results of archaeological discoveries, still remain important as an evidence of avant-garde museological ideas.
The review starts from general representations and ends with more detailed and specific views, simplified and summarized for decorative purposes: on the eastern wall are two big maps of Italy, one displaying the extension of the territories inhabited by the Etruscans during the period of their maximum expansion (fifth century BC) and one with the division into regions at the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus (end of the first century BC).
In prominent position, on the long wall opposite the gallery, is a part (the river Po from Piacenza to its mouth and central Italy to Rome) of the so-called “Tabula Peutingeriana”, a medieval copy of a map drawn in the fourth century AD that represents, with a marked horizontal deformation, the entire Roman Empire in bird’s-eye view from west to east.
Representations of the Po delta and its changes over the centuries, along with the maps of the lagoons of Comacchio, are important to understand the "phenomenon" of Spina: the area of the necropolis, drawn on the base of the Geographic Military Institute maps (1923 edition), the seven Po Deltas from a study of the twenties, and the system of the lagoons of Comacchio before the reclamation of Valle Trebba showing the line of the marine shore during the Etruscan era, drawn from a map of the Geographic Military Institute dated 1917.
NÉ ANCORA DÏOMEDE AVEA
DI DELFIC'ORO E ARGIVO ONOR VESTITA
SPINA PELASGA. AHI NOME VANO OR SUONA!
SPARÍ, DEL VESPRO VISÏONE, IN FACCIA
A LA SORGENTE CON IN MAN LA CROCE
SALVE, FERRARA! DOVE STAN LE BELLE
TORRI D'ATESTE E CASE D'ARÏOSTI
ERAN PALUDI E I LINGONI COLONI
DAVAN LE RETI
AL MARE INCERTO E COMBATTEAN LA PREDA,
QUANDO CAMPATI INNANZI LA RUINA
DEL LATRANTE UNNO I VENETI E DAL FÒRO
GIULIO I ROMANI,
SI COME I LIGURI AVI DA LE BELVE
NE LE DISPERSE STAZION LACUSTRI,
QUI CONFUGGIRO E RIPARARON L'ALTO
SEME DI ROMA.
Giosué Carducci (1835-1907), Alla città di Ferrara, 1895