"This had best be worth it when (if) we get there!" Castellammare di Stabia by weatherwytch

Castellammare di Stabia Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 57 photos

Monte Faito Cablecar

Bless the Italians, if they had put up signs to some of the tourist attractions I'd have been able to find them, I'd have spent more cash and I'd be a whole lot more broke than I am now!

The Monte Faito cable car was pretty easy, it's at the end of the platform of the railway station.

Hold on, not so fast. You have to buy tickets from the little office in the lobby of the station which means exiting the station then going back through the ticket barriers. Then go and wait in the lobby of the cable car station.

The ride is fabulous 1000m rise in 8 minutes and the view over the bay is magnificent but don't forget to look down too.

We were late in the day so we had just 30 minutes to dash around or it would have been a long (though downhill) walk back. But it did give me just enough time to find a little patch in the woods and as the family looked at the view I found a piece of pumice and a piece of tephra with lava pieces caught in it, great finds.

Where are these villas

Now, let's go and look for these villas. There are no signs and no-one seems to be able to tell us where we get the bus from. But then the man in the tabbachi gave us directions. I'm not going to repeat them here instead I've plotted them out using gmaps because quite honestly he sent us a very long way around.
So this link will show you how to get Villa san Marco
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5173550

or you can go to Via Nocera railway station and walk from there.
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5173578

and Villa Arianne
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5173607

Villa san Marco is the most remarkable place. It was once a coastal villa perched on a low cliff only the eruption of Vesuvius filled the bay up and the sea is now 1/2km away. The eruption also buried the villa and it really did go undiscovered until the late 1700's so it is full of frecos and mosaics that didn't get robbed. It also has a swimming pool that makes modern celebrity extravaganzas pale into insignificance.

Pliny the Younger recorded the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79 and the death of his uncle in 2 letters. His uncle Pliny the Elder died at one of the Stabiae villas could it have been this one, what a thought!

Having flogged the mile and a half on a blistering afternoon it was a joy to finally arrive. A mile and a half is not so far but we had walked around and around Herculaneum that morning and you know how it is, distances always seem so much greater when you think you are walking in the wrong direction.

It looked like we were in someone's back yard then we saw the entry booth and 2 ladies there. It turned out it had been a slow day at the end of the season, the one lady was English and had just arrived and had seen us slogging up the hill whilst she was on the bus, a number 1 apparently. The other lady was Italian and was desperate to guide some people round. She was brilliant, hardly a word of English but she had such enthusiasm and between all of us we managed to work out the salient points.

The frescos and mosaics and the pool and the paintings and the fossilised tree roots this is a treasure of a place.

'The other villa is 500m along the road', the guide lady told us. Add a 1 to the front of that please. Villa Arianne had the view back in the day but being right on the cliff edge it had evidently been exposed when part of the cliff had slipped down, dug up and stripped, most of the mosaics and frescos have gone, disappeared into private collections or museums.

Tell the truth we were all in and wanted to get home. The walk back was shorter because we found the shortcut, down a shady narrow street out to almost where we had started and back to the station in 10 minutes.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The most fabulous Roman Villa you will ever see
  • Cons:Not a signpost or direction in sight
  • In a nutshell:A stunning snapshot of how the Roman rich lived.
  • Last visit to Castellammare di Stabia: Oct 2011
  • Intro Written Nov 13, 2011
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