Oplontis and Villa Regina
I took a day off work to go visit Oplontis and Villa Regina last Thursday. These are the two smaller ruin sites, after Pompeii and Herculaneum, that were destroyed in the volcanic eruption of 79 AD.
I visited Oplontis first. It was one large villa (some incredibly rich person’s show-off summer place by the sea) that is largely excavated, except for part that is still buried under the neighboring road and a gun factory. The villa is known for its many peacocks that are painted all over the place as well as mythological themes up the wazoo. The walls still have a majority of wall paintings and the floor tiling. Archaeologists have put a ton of walls and columns back in place as well. And the villa has a gigantic swimming pool.
Then I went to Villa Regina, which is quite tiny compared to Oplontis and especially Pompeii. Outside of a large room full of partially buried, gigantic wine amphorae, there is not much to those ruins. The best part of Villa Regina was the museum on the property. It is not too big, but it houses some very important artifacts found at the site as well as some from Pompeii. You can see a full loaf of bread, various grains and nuts, fishing nets, shells, pots, a plaster cast of a dog, a cast of the woman who was living at the villa with her scarf over her face (as she was suffocating to death from the volcano’s deadly fumes), glass tear jars and perfume jars, paintings, etc.
These villas are nothing compared to the grand, albeit empty Pompeii, and the small, dense, tiled, and fascinating Herculaneum. My order for my favorite ruins is happens to be directly proportional to their sizes-Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and lastly, Villa Regina.