Villa San Marco – Castellammare di Stabia, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Villa San Marco

Castellammare di Stabia, Italy

For centuries, this large Roman villa remained hidden thanks to the eruption that buried nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum. 


The ancient Roman town of Stabiae was a small settlement on the coast near Pompeii, now occupied by the current city of Castellammare di Stabia. The settlement was originally a fortified burg but later became a holiday destination with numerous rustic and luxurious villas.

After being damaged by an earthquake in 62, Stabiae was buried under the volcanic ash expelled by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79, along with Pompeii, Herculaneum, and many other nearby towns.

Excavation of the site began in 1749, and many villas were discovered in the following decades. New finds are still being uncovered to this day.

Rare examples of surviving Roman paintings can be found in some of the villas of Stabiae, such as Villa San Marco. This luxurious villa is especially notable for being the largest holiday villa in all the region of Campania and the main site of the excavation of Stabiae. The villa is in an excellent state of preservation after being buried under feet of ash for many centuries. The walls of many areas inside the villa are decorated with mosaics and frescoes. Villa San Marco also features large thermal baths, gardens, and two peristyles.

Like most of the nearby villas, Villa San Marco was not occupied at the time of the eruption and was still being repaired after the earthquake. Objects uncovered within the villa are mostly agricultural tools and potteries.

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