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Floods expose Roman ruins at Baiae

Parts of decadent Naples Bay resort emerge

22 January, 17:55
Floods expose Roman ruins at Baiae

(ANSA) - Naples, January 22 - Heavy flooding south of Naples have caused landslips that exposed Roman walls at Baiae, an ancient Roman fleshpot resort near Pompeii attracting the empire's great and good, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Baiae - modern Baia, near Sophia Loren's birthplace Pozzuoli - was a fashionable getaway for several hundred years, especially towards the end of the Roman Republic. Even more popular than Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri with the super-rich, it was notorious for the hedonistic temptations on offer, and for rumours of scandal and corruption. The famously decadent emperor Caligula (ruled 37-41 AD) staged a spectacular stunt at the ancient site of Pozzuoli, Puteoli, soon after his coronation, riding across a two-mile pontoon bridge in defiance of an astrologer's prediction that he had "no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae".

Baiae was an integral part of Portus Julius, home port of the western Imperial Fleet of ancient Rome.

The town was sacked by Saracen raiders in the 8th century AD and was deserted because of malaria by 1500. Because of coastal subsidence most of Baiae is now under water in the Bay of Naples, largely due to local volcanic activity.

Exquisite statues and rich mosaics are magnets for divers.