I will never tire of discovering new archaeological sites and ancient ruins! Combine that with a trip to a pasta factory and I call that a dynamite pair! We arrived during the morning to walk on history in Villa Arianna, a series of residential complexes constructed between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD, on the slopes of the Verano Hill at Castellammare di Stabia. Some of the most beautiful frescoes and tile work can be seen throughout. Just enough time was spent here to work up an appetite and pop down the road to a town called Gragnano, known as Italy’s pasta capital. It is most famous for its air-dried pasta! It’s crazy to imagine how the streets used to be lined with pasta hanging to dry!!
The Rustic Quarter: Recent excavations in this sector of Villa Arianna have evidenced the vast open area, 73, featuring nine green-frescoed pillars regularly aligned but diverging with respect to the villa’s original layout. There is also the access to a ramp, level for a short span and then steeply plunging northwards, part of a tunnel at the beginning of the path which connected this quarter to the coastal plain. In 1981, within an open courtyard in the southern part of the villa, two agricultural carts for the transport of sundry merchandise were found.
The Atrium: The ample tuscanic atrium 24, lacking the four columns of the impluvium (the square basin in its middle receiving rainwater from an open space in the roof and feeding it to an underlying cistern), represents, along with the adjoining subterranean peristyle, the oldest part of the villa. Of the splendid wall decoration in the 3rd Pompeian Style (Claudian era) only that in the median zone now survives. The black walls are subdivided into ample squares by marble colonnades and architectural perspectives. The central figures, painted against a green background, were detached in the 1950’s. The atrium is flanked by two wings.
The Service Quarter: A large kitchen (4) with a masonry hearth and a rectangular courtyard with a square pool, probably used as a hatchery for small fish, are the main features of this quarter. The courtyard leads to the thermal quarter: thus far only the calidarium (6) and part of a round room (30), probably a laconicum (sauna), have been excavated. On the northern wall of room 28, there is still in place part of the lead water-duct (fistula) to the pool lying behind, and on the western wall a few access steps to the podium- where the bronze cauldron heating the nearby calidarium stood.
The Triclinium: The triclinium 3, decorated in the 4th Pompeian Style (Neronian age) features a high socle interrupted by the aediculae (niches) with figures on a black background, and the medium zone of each wall having in its center a large square fresco with mythological themes.
A narrow aisle leads to a couple of cubicles . From the first one, whose floor was decorated with a black and white rectangular geometric mosaic comprising squares alternating with shields, a few elements were detached in Bourbon times, now in the collections at the Naples National Archeological Museum and the British Museum in London.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!