Romans on the Bay of Naples
New Discoveries and Highlights in the Shadow of Vesuvius
The extraordinary Roman sites in the Bay of Naples have undergone an incredible regeneration in recent years. This beautiful stretch of coast, which was developed in the Roman era by elites and emperors in search of leisure, has witnessed exciting new archaeological activities, as well as an unprecedented number of newly opened sites. While much attention has been given to the wonderful new excavations of Pompeii, much less has been said about the opening of new sections of Herculaneum, the opening of Roman sites in Positano and Boscoreale, and the excavations taking place in Terzigno and Somma Vesuviana. This tour offers a fresh take of Romans in the Bay of Naples, taking into consideration these new discoveries and sites, and offering an up-to-date examination of this prosperous and beautiful part of the ancient world. There has never been a better time to visit the towns in the shadow of Vesuvius with the advantage of it being a less crowded time of year.
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Day 1 - London - Naples - Salerno
We fly to Naples and, on arrival, transfer to our hotel, the Hotel Scapolatiello, in the hills in the Monti Lattari above Salerno.
|Hotel||Hotel Scapolatiello, Cava de' Tirreni|
Day 2 - Positano & Amalfi
This morning we drive to Positano, where we visit the Roman Villa and museum, with its dazzling frescoes. Discovered under the church of Santa Maria Assunta, this villa maritima, one of many opulent coastal villas built along the Bay of Naples, may have been owned by the gladiator Posides who was a slave freed by the emperor Claudius. After a period of restoration, the villa has only recently been opened to the public. After lunch, we travel down the Amalfi Coast to Amalfi to explore the Cathedral of St. Andrew first built in the 9th century and which is admixture of different styles from its Arabic-Norman beginnings to the Renaissance and Baroque. The cathedral has magnificent bronze doors from the 11th century, the earliest in Italy after the Roman period, and a wonderful Romanesque campanile decorated with Majolica tiles and interlacing arches. We proceed to the Arabic style 13th century Cloister of Paradise which has a wonderful peristyle, as well as 13th century frescoes.
Day 3 - Capri
We take the ferry from Naples to Capri, where emperors and Roman senatorial elites built seaside villas in order to enjoy otium, or leisure. Here, we explore the palatial Roman Villa Jovis, built by Tiberius in AD 27 in order to provide a place of refuge for him from the machinations of Rome. Originally almost 2 acres big, the villa was the backdrop for Tiberius’ purported louche parties. After an included lunch, there will be free time to explore this lovely island. Afterwards, we return to Naples by ferry and return to our hotel.
Day 4 - Pompeii
The poignant site of Pompeii richly rewards a full day of exploration, walking the streets of a once-bustling Roman town, its houses, institutions, shops, bars and brothels inundated by volcanic material. The focus of today’s visit is the new discoveries at the city. We will be visiting the Regio V to see the House of Leda and the Swan, as well as the antiquarium to see the coin which confirmed the date of the eruption. We will also be visiting newly opened sites such as the House of the Fruit Orchard and the Praedia of Julia Felix.
|Hotel||Hotel Scapolatiello, Cava de' Tirreni|
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 5 - Naples - Pozzuoli - Baia
We start the day with a visit to the Museum of Archaeology in Naples, which exhibits the precious frescoes and mosaics discovered in the Vesuvian towns, including the Alexander Mosaic and the paintings of Sappho and the Pompeii riot. After lunch, we venture to the Flavian amphitheatre in Pozzuoli, one of the largest amphitheatres in the ancient world. Here we will explore the best-preserved service rooms of any extant amphitheatre. We end the day with a visit to Baia, an erstwhile exclusive seaside resort developed entirely in the Roman period in order to cater to the desires of the super-rich who built enormous villas in order to take advantage of thermal springs. We visit the Archaeological Park where the imperial family built an enormous thermal and palatial complex.
Day 6 - Herculaneum & Boscoreale
Today we visit Herculaneum, sealed by 23 metres of pyroclastic flow from the same eruption which buried Pompeii. The nature of the eruption has meant that organic materials have survived, making this a more poignant site than Pompeii: here we see a wonderfully preserved wine shop, the stunning House of the Stags with its pergola overlooking the sea and many fragments which attest to the everyday life in this upmarket city. There has never been a better time to visit the site, as two new museums have recently opened, as well as the House of the Bicentenary opened for the first time after decades. We start with a private visit to the Theatre of Herculaneum, discovered in the 18th century after statues were found from the digging of a well. Still buried under the pyroclastic flow, the theatre gives us invaluable glimpses into daily life in the city. After an included lunch in Herculaneum, we visit Boscoreale where we visit the Villa Regina, discovered in the late 20th century while digging for the foundations of council housing. In contrast to the opulent villas we have seen on other days, this is a modest small holding which provides us with evidence of how ordinary people lived. Alongside this villa, we visit an antiquarium which contains remains of everyday life in the ancient Vesuvian towns. Here we see previous remains of garum, an enigmatic door mouse jar, as well as Primus’ dog, the famous canine found in Pompeii.
Day 7 - Cava de Tirreni - Somma Vesuviana - Terzigno
We start the day with a private visit to the extraordinary archives of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at Cava de Tirreni, which contains 15,000 parchments dating as early as the 8th century. We proceed to the Museum of Archaeology at Terzigno, which houses precious remains and frescoes of 3 ancient farms destroyed by the AD 79 earthquake and excavated only recently. After lunch we make our way to Somma Vesuviana where the Villa Augustea will be opened especially for us. This unique site, which is still being excavated, was destroyed not by AD 79 eruption but by one in AD 472, giving us precious evidence of the regeneration of the area after the famous eruption which destroyed Pompeii.
Day 8 - Salerno - Naples - London
We have reserved one final private visit for this morning. After checking out of our hotel, we travel to the Villa Sora in Torre del Greco, where we have special access to a fine residence once thought to be owned by a member of the Julio Claudian Family. We transfer to the airport for our flight home.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- All taxes & gratuities
- Field notes
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single Supp.||Offer||Availability|
|15 March 2021||ARBN210315||15 March 2021 (Monday)||22 March 2021 (Monday)||John Shepherd||£2,395
|15 November 2021||ARBN211115||15 November 2021 (Monday)||22 November 2021 (Monday)||John Shepherd||£2,395