Archaeology on the Sorrento Coast

antiquarium di vico equense

Greeks and Romans on the Sorrentine peninsula

The archaeological sites of Campania: reading these words immediately brings to mind Pompeii. But Campania and the Sorrentine peninsula have a wealth of extraordinary archaeological remains, and visitors with an interest in Greco-Roman antiquity will be fully satisfied. The coasts of Campania are linked to myths and legends dating back to Homer and to the time of heroes, not least of all the myth of the Sirens, set in Naples, who bewitched sailors with their song and drove them to shipwreck. One of the Sirens was Partenope, who gave her name to the first Greek city that became Naples. In Sorrento, too, there was once a temple dedicated to the Sirens. But passing from myth to archaeology, the entire coast of Campana, and therefore the peninsula, is rich in remains that remind us of the presence of rich Romans in this corner of Paradise. You could even say that tourism was invented here: the wealthiest Romans built magnificent villas along the coast of the Gulf of Naples and today, still in their magnificent settings, we can admire and visit the remains of these villas. These were villas dedicated to the otium – or, as we would say today, to holidays, rest, meditation and reading. Indeed, in some of these villas, for example in Herculaneum, rich libraries have been discovered.

The villas of the otium

Without traveling far, those staying in Vico can reach the neighbouring Castellammare di Stabia, where they can visit three villas that are part of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii; examples of those magnificent luxury abodes, which looked out onto the sea. But the largest and most beautiful is that of Oplonti, in what is today Torre Annunziata, which is said to have belonged to Poppea, wife of Nero. A villa with marvellous frescos, a pool and private hot springs: a real luxury home. Just as luxurious was the villa of Tiberius in Capri, the villa in which the Roman emperor spent the last years of his life, and if you visit you will understand why the most powerful man chose such a pleasant place. In Sorrento, on the other hand, after a pleasant stroll, you can visit the villa of Pollio Felice, where, centuries later, Queen Giovanna went to bathe.

The Antiquarium of Vico

But there are also Roman remains in Vico. If you take the street that leads to Marina di Vico, you will be able to enjoy stunning panoramas and eventually reach the beach, flanked by the remains of Roman villas, which show that this place was also inhabited by several rich Romans who spent their otium gazing at the Gulf, Vesuvius and far-off Ischia.

But even in the Silio Italico Antiquarium, part of the Palazzo Communale, you can admire archaeological remains from the Greek and Roman past of these delightful places.

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