Positano, the gem of the Amalfi Coast, is known around the world for its scenic and natural beauty. However, few know that ruins of a Roman villa have been found under Positano's main church, Santa Maria dell'Assunta.
Prior to its discovery, the impressive villa had been hidden since AD 79 when an eruption of Vesuvius buried it under volcanic stone and ash. The same eruption also buried the nearby Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Over the last 14 years, teams of international archaeologists have been working to excavate the villa complex, which stretches under the entire historic center of Positano.
While excavating archaeologists discovered gilded columns, colorful frescoes and several household objects including bronze vases and wooden wardrobes.
In Roman times many villas were built by emperors and wealthy aristocrats along the coastline of the Campania: from the Sorrento peninsula to Paestum, including the Amalfi Coast and Capri. They were the so called "villae maritimae", accessible only by the sea and exclusive retreats for the most important Roman aristocracy.
The villa was probably property of a gladiator, called "Posides" Claudi Cesaris libertus who then give the name "Positano" to the town.
The Villa is now open to the public.