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.
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.
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
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 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.
the more important artifacts found were some bottles in blown glass (pictured above and right), clay jugs and a olive press.
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.