This paper provides a general overview of the villas in the bay of Baiae, and focuses on the remarkably dense spacing and relatively small dimensions of these early villas.
The coastal strip of Baiae, which has been called the earliest Roman luxury resort by some researchers, and probably not without justification, is central to any colloquium focusing on “luxury residences in the eastern and western Mediterranean in the Hellenistic and Imperial periods”. It is therefore surprising that many aspects of the most famous spa resort in Roman antiquity have not yet been explored in detail. Thanks to his ongoing dissertation project on Baiae, the speaker is in a position to present first new research results. These will be presented as a brief introduction.
Establishing the paper within the context of the colloquium, it will discuss a special feature of Baiae which has received little attention so far, but leaves room for interpretation. Compared to other villas on the Gulf of Naples, the relatively small dimensions and dense spacing of the early villas in Baiae is particularly notable. The paper explores possible reasons for this density and illustrates architectural solutions of this “space problem” of Baiae at the hand of several examples.
A further focus of the paper is the “Villa della Sosandra”. By tracing changes within this structure, it is possible to show what role the dense spacing of buildings and the elitist surrounding played on the basis of very innovative architecture.
In a final section, the discussion centres on the kind of architecture that could have been interpreted as ‘more Baianu’ and the extent to which the demonstrated examples can be evaluated in this regard.