In the first centuries BC and AD, the sumptuous villas dotted all around the Bay of Naples served as summer residences for leisure and political entertaining . In the hot months Rome was empty of the rich and powerful, and the area surrounding the Bay of Naples became the virtual capital of the Empire.
The villas were designed to provide fabulous views of the Bay and also contained serene garden courtyards. According to ArtDaily.org , the exhibition features twenty-six remarkably well-preserved fresco wall paintings and eleven wall reliefs made of stucco among the more than seventy works of art and artifacts recovered from five partially-excavated ancient Roman villas located in Stabiae.
The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 a.d. destroyed a wide swath of populated territory, bringing an end to the area's era of affluence. But the thick layer of ash and pumice functioned exceptionally well as a preservative, and the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation has as its mission the excavation and conservation of at least two of the enormous villas and the transformation of the site into one of the largest archaeological parks in modern Europe. The site of Stabiae (Castellammare di Stabia) is 2.5 miles from Pompeii and is currently open to the public.
The four-year tour of this exhibition represents the first long-term loan of major cultural treasures from Italy to the U.S. After Madison, it will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (July 8 – October 7) and then to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, FL (November 7- Feb 3, 2007/08).