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Villa Petraro

Description of the Villa

The Villa Petraro is a rustic villa situated in the village of Petraro in the municipality of Santa Maria la Carita. The building once stood in the plain of Sarno, in a wooded area near the paved Roman road between Stabiae and Nuceria. The villa was discovered in 1957 on the site of a quarry and its exploration continued until 1958 when, after having been stripped of its paintings and decorative elements of greatest importance, it was re-buried.
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The
villa, originally built during the Augustan era (30BC - AD14), measured approximately  37 x 29 m and covered an area of about 1,000 sq.m.  There were two floors over at least part of the building as evidenced by the presence of a ladder found in the excavations and a flight of stairs (b) in the south west corner of the courtyard.
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The villa had a large courtyard (a) with a cryptoporticus (c) running along its north east side to provide a cool place away from the summer sun. Along the south west side of the courtyard the columns were built of opus vittatum, a construction method involving tufa blocks with bands of brick at regular intervals. Beside the well (d) on the east side of the courtyard were found several new columns. All the rooms of the villa, both residential and farm-related, were arranged around this courtyard including six cubicula ergastula (cells for slaves).
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Following the work of enlarging the building, the villa had acquired its own bath suite (e) along its south eastern side. The suite consisted of an apodyterium, a tepidarium, a caldarium with a vaulted ceiling and a frigidarium together with the associated praefurnium to heat the complex.

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The bath complex had some good stucco work (pictured top left and upper right), much of which was removed and can now be seen in the Stabian Antiquarium. Several of the stuccoes are unfinished, the work probably being interrupted by the eruption. The panels incorporate both rustic and mythological themes including scenes relating to Pasiphae as well as Narcissus (top left). Away from the decorative bath suite, most walls of the villa were covered with plain white plaster.
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Among the more important artifacts found were some bottles in blown glass (pictured above and right), clay jugs and a olive press.

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At the time of the eruption the villa appears to have been undergoing a process of renovation with piles of building materials strategically placed throughout the building and several areas of unfinished work. Judging by the type of work being undertaken it would seem that the original villa rustica was being converted to a building for purely residential use, probably because of its attractive position close to the shore with spectacular views over the Bay of Naples.
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