In the rooms of Palazzo Olginati there is an exhibition dedicated to Roman archeology.
Four small introductory rooms present the novelty elements introduced by the Roman culture, unknown to the previous Celtic culture: oil lamps, precision scales, statuettes, blown glass with bright colors, fine tableware, frescoes.
To these we add the decisive contribution of the introduction of writing and of the Latin language, which represents an authentic cultural leap.
The legacy of Latin humanist culture has come to us through a chain of passages, from papyrus and parchment to medieval codes and modern printed editions. In the exhibition, these passages are documented by some works coming in large part from the Giovio library, which bear witness to the passion for culture demonstrated over the centuries by this ancient Como family.
The exhibition path on the ground floor closing the portico of the palace with glass windows illustrates the Roman period in Como and in the territory through the finds found here. Some architectural elements testify to the refinement that was to characterize the city in the first centuries AD, especially at the time of the Plinio the Younger Como, remembered by a marble base that had to support a statue dedicated to him. There is a monumental frieze with the parade of the knights, four figurative bases, a fragmentary bust of the emperor Septimius Severus and the famous portrait of the first emperor, Augustus.
The exhibition follows a thematic approach: military organization, religious events, businesses, production activities, food, entertainment, toiletries, medicine and, lastly, the cult of the dead. Each of these topics is developed in specific showcases.
The accessories used for female beauty can also be considered objects of common use: rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, hair pin. Next to these ornaments there are mirrors and containers, among which there is a container in terracotta in the shape of a dove.
Razors and strigils, used in the gymnasiums to cleanse the sweat and dust after the competitions, are instead reserved for men.
To make the location and the salient features of the Roman city of Como immediately visible, a model has been created to present the main structures and monuments that have been discovered so far. Each of them has been rebuilt and highlighted in red on a base that faithfully reproduces on a scale of 1: 2500 the current city of Como with its landmarks, from the Duomo to the Castel Baradello, from the Rationalist War Memorial to the lighthouse of Brunate. In this way, in addition to locating the buildings, it is possible to see visually how from the Roman age to the present day, the urban layout has developed without interruption.
The final showcases contain some funerary objects ranging from the Augustan period to the late Roman period. They testify to the use of placing in the tombs the most expensive objects belonged to the deceased together with various recipients with food offerings.
From the burial tomb of a woman who lived in the III century AD come two cymbals in bronze: these percussion instruments, used in ceremonies in honor of the goddess Isis but also of Dionysus, attest that the deceased was a follower of one of these deities.
The exhibition of the Roman city of Como is completed by the rich Lapidarium, located on the ground floor of Palazzo Giovio