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The 'Second Complex'

Description of the Villa

The villa known as the 'Second Complex' is located in a clifftop position with panoramic views over the Bay of Naples. Situated across a narrow lane from the 'First Complex', the much larger Villa Arianna, it was originally excavated in 1762 by Karl Weber and further explored by Pietro La Vega in 1775. In all, an area of about 1,000 sq. m. was excavated before the villa was reburied.

More recent excavations, which began in 1967, re-exposed part of the peristyle together with a series of rooms that opened off its west and north sides. Unfortunately one of these rooms, an oecus, was subsequently destroyed by a landslide.
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The colonnade along the north side of the peristyle consists of fourteen stuccoed columns with an extended intercolumniation at the centre, opposite a large triclinium (f) which is flanked by a series of rooms and connecting corridors. Little of the wall decoration in this part of the house has survived, but the mosaic floors fared considerably better, only to be removed en masse during the early excavation work and incorporated into the floors (mainly Room 142) of the Royal Bourbon Museum, later to become the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The triclinium had a white mosaic floor, bordered by a black and white meander. The floor had a rectangular centre piece with figurative motifs (pictured right, from the book Stabiae: storia E. Architettura by Giovanna Bonifacio).

The threshold of an adjoining room (it is not clear from the reports of the excavation exactly which room it was) depicted, in black and white, a vase from which ivy emerged forming symmetrical spirals.


The west side of the peristyle is decorated in the third style with panels framed in red on a black ground above a lower red frieze. The rooms off this side of the peristyle probably date from imperial times and incorporate
several rooms built on a different axis to the original building. The walls in this area, mostly built in opus reticulatum, are in a much better state of preservation than the rest of the villa. The rooms in this part of the villa are decorated in the third style, mostly on a black ground.
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The first of these rooms (g) is a large oecus with a door and two windows opening onto the colonnade of the peristyle (pictured right, viewed from the peristyle). The room, re-excavated in the summer of 1967 has a floor of opus sectile and third style frescoes in black above a lower black frieze (pictured lower right).

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A doorway on the north side opens onto a terrace (h) while a door in the north west corner leads to a second oecus (i) (pictured above) which also overlooks the terrace to the north by means of a central doorway and two side windows. This room is also decorated in the third style with black panels on a red ground above a lower black frieze. The south wall of this room has at its centre an exedra (j) which is decorated in the third style with panels framed in red above a lower black frieze.
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To the left of the exedra a narrow passage (j), whose walls were simply coated with rough plaster, leads to an open area (k) to the south. On the right a second corridor leads to a rectangular room (l) which backs onto the lane separating the complex from the neighbouring Villa Arianna. Next to this corridor, on the west side of oecus (i), a doorway leads to room (m), which is also decorated in the third style.

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The second room (o), entered by way of the eastern doorway, is of
an irregular shape with a narrow entrance (pictured above) acting more like a passageway than part of the room itself. The room, like the other rooms on the west side of the villa, is decorated in the third style and has a white mosaic floor bordered by a simple black band. (The picture above is taken looking back at room (m) and shows a second entrance to room (n) on the right).

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The original villa appears to have been built round the large rectangular peristyle (a) (pictured left and below) which had a square fish pond (b) at its western end. According to drawings from the Bourbon excavations the southern side of the peristyle consisted of an pseudo porch closed in by faux columns resting on a low wall. The rooms beyond included a kitchen and the villa's own private bath suite. The suite comprised a caldarium (c) with an apse at its northern end and a bath along its southern side, a tepidarium (d) with a bath and a room (e) with a circular copula, probably a laconicum.
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Two rooms lead off the north side of this room. The doorway to the west opens onto a large room (n) (pictured above) decorated in the third style on a black ground with central panels framed in red including that of the sea horse and dolphin pictured below.




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