The Cave of the Sibyl

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An archaeological site of great charm located on the occidental boundary of the vast area of the Phlegraean Fields, an ancient place whose origins are deeply rooted in myth.

The Phlegraean Fields, literally the land of fire, are a vast area located in the north-west of Naples which is still today affected by an impressive seismic and volcanic activity that has bewitched men for centuries with its huge alluring charm. Due to its morphology and volcanic nature, the myth has named it the land of Giants. The poet Homer considered the area around Lake Avernus to be the connection place between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and claimed that in the underground tunnels located in this area live the “Cimmeri”, strange men who lived in darkness without ever seeing sunlight. But the most fascinating character bound to these places is without doubt the Cumaean Sybil, the priestess who made almost indecipherable prophecies from inside her cave. The Sybil, along with the Mermaid Partenope, is one of the most recognizable characters in the history of Campania, and many myths concerning her have risen in time. The most famous of which tells that the young Sybil asked Apollo the gift of a life as long as many years as the number of dust specks she could hold in one hand, forgetting to ask for eternal youth as well. For this reason she grew so old that she became small enough to live in an ampoule, or that even her voice was the only thing left of her.
Legends aside, the Phlegraean Fields still hold an important archaeological heritage which tells us of its ancient Greek origins and the cults tied to them. The archaeological park of Cuma consists of the city’s Acropolis where the temples of Apollo and Jupiter can be seen, which were transformed into Christian churches during the middle ages, the Roman Crypt, a long tunnel built for military purposes, and last but not least the Cave of the Sybil with its long trapezoidal tunnel dug in tuff rock.

The archaeological park of Cuma is open every day from 9 am until an hour before sunset. The cost of the ticket is 4 euros; it is valid for 2 days and allows visiting all the sites of the Complesso Monumentale Archeologico Flegreo (The archaeological museum of the Phlegraean Fields, the Baia archaeological park, the Flavio e Serapeo amphitheatre in Pozzuoli, and the archaeological park of Cuma).

Old Villas of Stabiae

Flora. Fresco from Stabiae. Inv. No. 8834. Naples, National ArchVilla Arianna opens the thermal complex to its visitors: a suggestive archaeological itinerary in Castellammare di Stabia.
 
In the heart of the Gulf of Naples, on the hill of Varano, in Castellammare di Stabia, there’s an archaeological site of rare beauty and great appeal which still preserves a complex of Imperial Age villas, once summer residences and agricultural businesses of the best Roman aristocracy.
The two main complexes are named Villa San Marco and Villa Arianna, and today they face an underlying urban landscape which took the place of the beach and the sea that once reached the base of the hill and were accessed through a private path made of tunnels and sloping terraces from the Ville.
The sumptuous residences, sealed by the ash of Mount Vesuvius for centuries, are surprisingly well preserved and have a variety of richly decorated spaces which makes them unique and have raised interest of prestigious universities such as the Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, which has been participating in the restoration and preservation of the site.
The last restoration intervention, done with the collaboration of the workers of Stabia’s Ufficio Scavi, allowed public access to the thermal baths of Villa Arianna, which wasn’t possible until August 2015. They consist of a series of rooms, tepidarium, calidarium, laconicum and frigidarium organized around a small indoor porticoed garden and they were part of the “salus per aquam” itinerary, which consisted of going through pools at different temperatures.
The luxurious nymphaeum and the knowledgeable iconography of the porticoes of Villa San Marco, the refined frescos of the rooms in Villa Arianna, the most important of which is the illustration of the difficult love between Theseus and Adriadne (Arianna), which also gives the Villa its name, are only a few of the wonderful treasures that this site safeguards.
A fascinating and suggestive archaeological itinerary which will thrill visitors with magnificent examples of the best and highest expression of a culture which laid the foundation for western civilization.
 
How to get there, dates and time.
Accessible through Via Passeggiata Archeologica from the archaeological site of Stabia. Free entry.
 
Time schedule:
1st April – 31st October: every day from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (last entry 6 pm)
Closing day: 1st May
1st November – 31st march:every day from 8.30 am to 5 pm (last entry 3.30 pm)
Closing days: 25th December and 1st January
For more information: www.pompeiisites.org

Pompeii: fragments of daily life in the world-famous roman citadel

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A few curiosities on the eating habits of our ancestors, forerunners of the Mediterranean diet.
 
What makes the archaeological site of Pompeii a unique place is the fact that visitors can find themselves thrown back in time into a 1st century Roman citadel and be free to walk around and see houses, noble villas, workshops, brothels, squares, and temples, and almost feel the daily routines of people who calmly conducted their affairs, lived their love life, concluded their business deals, and made plans for the future without knowing that it would be wiped out by the Vesuvius. We are left with a fascinating, yet tragic, pinpointed moment in time that still attracts millions of people from all over the world after two millennia.
Among all the information that Pompeii gives us about the lives of people at the time the thing that intrigues visitors the most are how common people lived their daily lives: how they washed, slept, loved, and, especially, ate.
The working day began at dawn to use as much daylight as they could and they had breakfast with bread and cheese, vegetables, or food left from the day before. Lunch consisted of focaccia bread, fried fish, sausages, cakes, and fruit; it wasn’t usually consumed at home but in places called Thermopolia a street tavern with brick counters where food was stored in jars placed in dedicated holes. These places could be decorated with frescos of Mercury, the god of commerce, and Dionysus, the god of wine. Dinner was consumed quite early; in noble residences in a room called triclinius where people ate lying down cheered by music, dances and plays. Knives and spoons existed, but not forks, so fingers were used and for this reason during banquets the commensals were provided with water bowls to wash their hands.
The marketplace was called Macellum, and probably were very crowded and noisy places. In a corner of the forum a rectangular portico with lines of workshops hosted counters selling meat and fish, in another area celebrations and banquets in honour of the emperor were made. The people of Pompeii must have been bread and focaccia lovers, as their descendants are pizza lovers: 34 bakeries have been identified in Pompeii, complete with wood ovens and igneous rock grindstones.