Huge Roman villa found under Amalfi church set to open

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A Roman villa buried eight metres below an Italian church will open to the public this July. Photo: Vassili Casula
16:36 CEST+02:00
A fresco-covered Roman villa, found underneath a church on Italy's sun-kissed Amalfi coast, is set to open to the public for the first time in July.

The opening of the villa was announced by Italy's Culture Undersecretary, Antimo Cesaro, on Saturday.

Cesaro told Ansa the ruin was "a perfectly preserved archaeological treasure of enormous artistic value".

The enormous villa dates back to the second century BC and was first unearthed eight metres below the church of Santa Maria dell'Assunta in central Positano, Campania, in 2004.

Prior to its discovery, the impressive abode had lain hidden since AD 79 when an eruption of Vesuvius buried it under volcanic stone and ash. The same cataclysmic eruption also buried the nearby Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Over the last 12 years, teams of international archaeologists have been working to excavate the vast villa complex, which stretches under the entire historic centre of Positano.

So far, only a fraction of the total structure has been brought to light.

While excavating the segment of the home set to be opened archaeologists discovered gilded columns, colourful frescoes and several household objects including bronze vases and wooden wardrobes.

Some of the items recovered from the villa. Photo: Vassili Casula

The excavations are still ongoing and restoration work is being carried out on some of the frescoes. However, this summer the public will be able to see the ancient home for the first time. 

In a later tweet, Cesaro added that the villa would be given extra money from a €150 million government pot to fund further archaeological work at the site.

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To date, a reported €4 million has already been spent on the villa's partial excavation and restoration, and the site promises do be a huge draw for tourists.

"It's a great opportunity for the city – and one which we don't intend to waste, said Positano mayor Michele De Lucia.  

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