Why should you go to Stabiae?
The excavations at Stabiae occupy the top of a long ridge. The buildings found so far include two large villas, parts of two other villas and the edge of the Roman town of Stabiae. There is much work left to be done and there are plans to develop this site and to make it more accessible to visitors.
In Roman times this ridge almost certainly looked out over the sea. Today the modern town of Stabiae lies at the bottom of the ridge.
The two sites which are accessible to the public are Villa Arianna and Villa San Marco. Villa Arianna is a very large villa with good wall paintings which exploited its view over the sea well. Villa San Marco is also large and it is notable for the work which the archaeologists are putting in to recovering the garden. Villa San Marco lay adjoining the roman town of Stabiae.
Both of these villas were destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, as was the town. They appear to have been overwhelmed by the volume of ash ejected by the volcano which would have crushed their roofs and covered them to a considerable depth.
How to Get There
The two villas at Stabiae are relatively demanding to find by public transport and foot. A significant walk is involved. A funicular railway is planned running from the station at Via Nocera to a footpath running along the edge of the ridge which will serve all of the sites. At present (AD 2012) this remains a plan and the only way to access the sites is to walk around the hill on the existing system of public roads.
The route described starts at the station named Via Nocera on the Circumvesuviana and effectively requires a series of left hand turns to carry the walker around the side of the hill to a position above the station at Via Nocera. Having made a few mistakes on this route the author has added the GPS locations of some of the more difficult turns. Remember that, if you use a GPS, the ovoid used is WGS84; other ovoids such as that used for mapping in the UK will result in errors which will completely invalidate the locations given.
Starting from the railway station at Via Nocera, leave the station at the end marked Uscita (Italian for 'Exit') then turn left and walk towards the junction with Via Puglia. Before you arrive at Via Puglia you will cross the end of a small road which leads to the left. Ignore it - it provides access to the buildings behind the station. Via Puglia does not have a signboard but is a main road with heavy traffic. Turn left. After a brief period Via Puglia starts to climb and you will find a high wall on your left, initially of stone but later rendered. Continue along Via Puglia, climbing steadily, past a row of shops until, immediately after a large pink building which houses an infertility clinic, there is a turn to the left into what appears to be a blocked off road. This is the Strada Varano which becomes the Via Varano. There is a name board on the wall facing you (GPS WGS84 40 41 46.39 N 14 29 23.79 E). There is a gap between the concrete which blocks this road and the wall at the right hand side. Pass through this gap and on up the hill.
Continue on this road as it reaches the top of the hill and the sign to Villa Arianna will appear on your left just before the junction with the main road which comes in from your right (GPS WGS84 40 41 53.01 N 14 29 23.79 E).
If you are going to Villa Arianna turn left, if you are going to Villa San Marco go straight on.
The busy road is Passegiata Archeologica and you will follow it for just over a kilometre to get to Villa San Marco. As you follow it, it will join a major road, Villa San Marco is at the end of a lane 100 metres after the junction with the main road. The turning is at GPS WGS84 40 42 10.98 N 14 30 04.75 E.
A summary of the train services is available.
The author last completed the journey described in June 2012.