It was Malibu, New York and Washington, D.C. all rolled into one. Before A.D. 79, when the erupting Mount Vesuvius engulfed it along with Pompeii and Herculaneum, the small port town of Stabiae in southern Italy was the summer resort of choice for some of the Roman Empire's most powerful men. Julius Caesar, the emperors Augustus and Tiberius and the statesman-philosopher Cicero all had homes there.
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Stabiae is about to be wrested from anonymity, thanks in no small measure to a local high school principal and one of his students. Large-scale excavations are scheduled to begin this summer on a $200-million project for a 150-acre Stabiae archeological park—one of the largest archeological projects in Europe since World War II.
Thomas Noble Howe, Coordinator General of the non-profit Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation (RAS) and art history chair at Southwestern University in Texas, describes the villas, believed to number at least six or seven, as "the largest concentration of well-preserved elite seafront Roman villas in the entire Mediterranean world."
Long article, all free access it seems.