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Oplontis Excursions

Oplontis was a town near Pompeii, Italy. On August 24, 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried it under a layer of ash. It is today the location of the Villa Poppaea, the villa of the wife of the Emperor Nero, which was excavated in the middle of the twentieth century and is open to the public. A second villa, the Villa of L. Crassius Tertius, was discovered in 1974, 250m east of the Villa of Poppaea, during the construction of a school. It was named following the finding of a bronze seal bearing the aforementioned name. The Villas The Villa Poppaea is a large structure situated in the Roman town of Oplontis (the modern Torre Annunziata), about ten metres below the modern level. It was owned by the Emperor Nero, and used by his second wife Poppaea Sabina, as her main residence when not in Rome. The archeological evidence suggests that at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, the villa was empty, being in the process of rebuilding and redecoration, possibly in the aftermath of the earthquake of 62. Nero had killed Poppaea in 65; according to Suetonius, by kicking her in the abdomen when she was in late pregnancy. The frescos decorating the walls are among the best preserved, both in form and in colour, of all Imperial Roman art works; the roof of the building largely survived the eruption, thus affording protection to the walls from the elements. The frescoes are in the so-called "second Pompeian style," with feigned architecture with windows that seem to open onto views or perspectives of trompe-l'oeil colonnades that would not be equaled in Italy until the fifteenth century. Though the site of the villa was rediscovered during brief excavations carried out by Francesco La Vega in the eighteenth century, the swimming pool that measures 60 by 15 meters was not unearthed until the 1970s. Nearby is the more recently discovered Villa of L. Crassius Tertius. found in 1974. A bronze seal found at the site gave the name of its last owner. This villa, which contained a large number of amphorae, was not deserted at the time of the eruption: beside the bodies of the unfortunate victims, coins and jewellery were also found.  

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