“The Alabandines were considered bright enough in all matters of politics, but that on account of one slight defect, the lack of the sense of propriety, they were believed to be unintelligent. In their gymnasium the statues are all pleading causes, in their forum, throwing the discus, running, or playing ball. This disregard of propriety in the interchange of statues appropriate to different places has brought the state as a whole into disrepute.” Vitr. 7.5.6
In this paragraph, often cited by archeologists, Vitruvius implies that there were “appropriate” design concepts for specific urban areas. The Doryphoros placed in the so- called Samnite palaestra in Pompeii would certainly have been adequate for Vitruvius. How frequently were gymnasia/palaestrae/campi actually decorated as specified? In contrast to gymnasia in the East, it is often challenging to archaeologically identify comparable structures in Italy, especially so, as their layout is only rarely preserved. This paper will illustrate the complexity of the topic on the basis of carefully chosen examples. The focus will lie on the display of statues in functional complexes comparable to gymnasia across Central and Southern Italy.