In the first century B.C., the Gulf of Naples became the playground par excellence of the Roman elite. Here, according to Cicero, was to be found an endless round of “banquets, parties, song, music, excursions in boats,” not to mention “intrigues, love affairs and adulteries.”
The idyll came to an abrupt end in August A.D. 79, with the eruption of Vesuvius. Along with the now more familiar Pompeii and Herculaneum, the seaside resort of Stabiae was also buried in several meters of cinder and ash. Stabiae, to the south of Pompeii, was not a town but a string of enormous luxury villas stretching along the coast, their remains now contiguous with the port town of Castellammare di Stabia.
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