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150 miles south of Rome, Baiae is a resort where the elites could let their hair down, and indulge their wildest dreams. The coastal city offered spectacular ocean views but lay in the dangerous shadow of Vesuvius. Today, few know about Baiae. Some of the greatest names of the Roman republic such as Caesar, Cicero, Mark Anthony, Nero, all of these men had villas at Baiae.
Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City premiered Wednesday, March 29 on PBS.
This is Baiae... ...a resort where the elites could let their hair down, and indulge their wildest dreams. 150 miles south of Rome...the coastal city offered spectacular ocean views... but lay in the dangerous shadow of Vesuvius. Today, few know about Baiae... It remains one of the least explored, but most intriguing places in the Roman Empire. Some of the greatest names of the Roman republic...Caesar, Cicero, Mark Anthony, Nero, all of these men had villas at Baiae.
This is where Rome's elite could come searching for Otium - that is leisure. It was absolutely a place of pleasure and debauchery and the mere mention of Baiae brought to mind scandal and could ruin your reputation. Ancient Roman historians chronicled life here. In one description we have by the writer Seneca, he's walking along the port at Baiae and he sees people staggering around they're so drunk, there are parties on boats and the air is full of loud music. Varo says Baiae is the place where old men come to become young boys again and young boys come to become girls. This was where aristocrats could come and shed their public persona and pursue pleasures in private.
Illicit sex, drunkenness, parties on the beach, parties on boats. What happened at Baiae stayed at Baiae. Above ground, palatial ruins hint at a glorious past. But there is more to Baiae than what's visible on land. More than half the once-great town now lies beneath the waves... Ruins three times the size of those in Pompeii. There's a network of roads... ...miles of brick walls... ...rich marble floors.... ...and splendid mosaics.