The city of Stabia it was, in ancient times, a holiday resort for the Roman elite. Unfortunately, its proximity to Pompeii and Herculaneum made it vulnerable in 79 AD, when the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius occurred. In fact, that year the ash and lapilli destroyed all the beauties that characterized that magnificent place.
The history of Stabia, however, did not begin, let alone an end, during the period of the rise of the power of Rome.
The entire area, which today corresponds to the municipality of Castellamare di Stabia, began to be inhabited around the eighth century BC, when the indigenous peoples of the Sarno plain they began to migrate to the coastal areas of modern Campania.
There construction of the first stable villages it began 100 years later, around the 7th century BC, in a more hilly area, which represented the perfect meeting point between the most fertile land and the sea.
Towards the sixth century BC, however, Greek culture began to arrive. This arrival is evidenced by the rich presence of finds of the time, such as ceramics, or the very architecture of the houses found.
It is conceivable that the great presence of Hellenistic elements was due to the role that Stabia assumed in the entire Campania coast, that is to say that of Emporium (the typical seaside resort on the Mediterranean Sea where continuous flows of goods took place).
They are simple Roman coins, found in a sanctuary in the city center, to testify to us the landing, around the third century BC, of the first Romans. Major sources, however, date back to the period of the Punic wars, where the Stabians fought alongside Rome against Carthage.
The alliance, of course, didn’t last long. With the rise of the social war, between 91 and 88 BC, Stabia stood against Rome, joining the Italic League (a confederation of former allies who requested to become part of Roman law and acquire citizenship).
This time, however, the Stabians did not prevail and the city was completely razed to the ground in 89 BC Its destruction, at the hands of Rome, was to leave a warning against the enemies and underline what new power was about to dominate the peninsula. Even Pliny the Elder, one of the most famous Roman writers and commanders, told the event.
The great Italic center was thus reduced to a simple rural territorial district (il pagus), inside the Nuceria Alfaterna. Its important role in the Mediterranean was limited and from a commercial power it turned into one simple seaside resort for the great men of Roman politics.
Here were built the so-called “villas in otium“and it is probable that important names stayed there, such as Julius Caesar, the emperor Augustus or Tiberius.
The disaster, however, soon became evident when, in 62 AD, a series of earthquakes began which brought the city to its knees for a second time. The peak came in 79, when there was the eruption of Vesuvius and its material, between ash and lapilli, buried the entire Stabiae. It was on that day that Pliny the Elder, mentioned above, died.
It is fair to point out that the damage was not so serious as much as those suffered by Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Stabians returned and tried to rebuild their homes, slowly returning to their daily life.