Oligarchs’ Roman City Lost for Millennia

Baiae was an ancient resort on the west coast of Italy that largely disappeared beneath the waves 1,700 years ago.

The town in Naples was the resort of choice for the Roman super-rich and became notorious for its sprawling mansions.

It was a place synonymous with luxury and wickedness, historians claim – a wine-soaked party town.

But as the centuries passed, much of it was lost to the sea as volcanic activity caused the coastline to retreat 400m inland.

Now the site in modern-day Italy has been rediscovered and opened to divers – who found many treasures still intact.

Photographer Antonio Busiello, who lives in Naples, photographed the site and found that roads, walls, mosaics and even statues had survived the ravages of time.

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The 45-year-old said: “The beautiful mosaics, and the villas and temples that have reemerged or are still underwater show the opulence and wealth of this area.


HISTORY: The town disappeared 1,700 years ago, Source: PEN NEWS/ANTONIO BUSIELLO

“It was considered one of the most important Roman cities for centuries.

“Pliny the Younger used to live here and from here, across the gulf, he witnessed and described the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum.”

He added: “Diving here is like a dive into history, looking at ancient Roman ruins underwater is something hard to describe, a beautiful experience indeed.”

The subaquatic wonder was first discovered in 1940 in an aerial photograph, and over the years more and more artefacts have been discovered at the dive site.

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