"Hope this is the right one........." Torre Annunziata by leics
Torre Annunziata Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 41 photos
.......I mean, I hope this is the Torre Annunziata near Naples and not another one somewhere else in Italy. If it's the latter you are searching for, then I apologise in advance!
To be honest, no-one would wish to visit Torre Annunziata were it not for the remains of Oplontis, destroyed at the same time as Herculaneum and Pompeii. Although only one villa is open to the public (the rest of ancient Oplontis still largely buried under modern Torre as well as under layers of volcanic mud, pumice and ash), and although it was undergoing substantial restorations when I visited, it is still a wonderful place.
Oplontis was, basically, a suburb of Pompeii. Two large villas have been excavated, but only one is open to the public: the Villa of Poppea (Nero's wife). Excavated between 1964 and 1984, it dates from the 1st century AD and is extremely luxurious. Rooms and courtyards are beautifully painted, a massive swimming pool lies in the gardens (complete with steps to get into the water), statues and sculptures (now elsewhere in museums) were everywhere. all in all, very much the type of holiday villa one would expect an important member of the aristocracy to own in order to spend the hottest part of the year down by the coast. After Nero died it seems that another owner took on the villa, for there is evidence of changes and remodelling prior to the eruption of 79AD.
Although I've wanted to visit this area since I was a little girl, and have read many books and watched many television programmes, I had never fully realised how the eruption affected different places in different ways. The pyroclastic flow of super-heated gases killed most of the imnhabitants prior to their being slowly buried by layers of ash and pumice, but in Herculaneum and Oplontis a slow-moving river of mud sealed the sites. Thus, in these places, organic materials such as wood and fabric, and metal, were far better-preserved. It was an eerie feeling to see real wooden doors, greyed with mud, resting in the place to which they had been gently pushed by the mud-flow. Somehow they made the villa more 'real' to me than all the wonderful wall-paintings (and there are many: see my travelogue). And in one place, in the gardens, through the window of a 'loggia', one can see the ooze of the mud, still petrified, still a clear indication of what must have been visible had anyone still been alive to see.
So it's worth the detour (by Circumvesuviana train) to see this villa. I suspect many visitors miss it off their list.......Pompeii and Herculaneum are so much better-known.......and yet it offers a real glimpse into the lives of the Roman ultra-rich, with many opulent and beautiful wall-paintings. Try to go if you can (Torre itself is unappealing, but safe enough in the daytime): simply walk to the left from the Circumvesuviana station main entrance, then turn right and follow the road. It is signed, though not particularly well. Your exertions will be worthwhile!
- Pros:Superbly preserved villa
- Cons:Torre Annunziata itself is not very pretty
- In a nutshell:Villa Poppaea....superbly preserved Roman villa
The graffiti (and the rubbish) in Torre Annunziata may make you feel that your visit to Villa Poppea was ill-advised. It... more travel advice
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