In Boscoreale, a suburban area north of Pompeii, many archaeological excavations were carried out between the late 19th century and the early 20th century by private citizens, the owners of the land. They were mainly aimed at discovering and removing wall and floor decorations as well as valuable objects, now housed in private collections or in various museums (the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York).
Thanks to these excavations, about thirty villae rusticae emerged. They were the bulk of the dense network of farms operating on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and in the nearby plains of the Sarno River during the 1st century A.D.. They were simple small or medium-sized farms, family-run or managed by slaves and servants, and in some cases larger buildings, with lavishly decorated residential quarters destined to occasionally host the rich owner, with other quarters for the slaves and servants as well as areas dedicated to farm work. The conditions of preservation of premises and furnishings were excellent, due to the fact that they were buried by volcanic deposits during the 79 A.D. eruption. Thus, the excavation data enabled the reconstruction of the processing stages of the main farm products in the Vesuvian area: wine which was to be exported, and oil which was mainly sold at the local market.
After each exploration, the buildings were usually reburied.
In some cases, such as that of Villa della Pisanella, the buildings were not reburied and consequently often subject to plundering which is why not much has remained in situ.
Villa della Pisanella
Villa della Pisanella, excavated between 1895 and 1899, was reburied and remains so today. It consists of a pars urbana, reserved for the owner (living quarters decorated in the Third Style and a thermal area), and a pars rustica, with dorms for the servants, a bakery, a stable, a wine press (torcular), and an olive press (trapetum). From the capacity of the containers found in the wine cellar, it can be inferred that the villa had about 24 hectares of land. According to some scholars, its owner was Lucius Caecilius Iucundus, a well-known banker in Pompeii.
Here, in 1895, a treasure was found; it has now been divided between the Louvre Museum and the Rothschild Collection. The treasure consisted in 1,037 gold coins (amounting to 102,800 sestertii) and 108 silverware pieces dating back to the Augustan Age. Among the most important pieces are; two cups, one showing ‘Tiberius’s Triumph’ and the other ‘Augustus on the Throne’, glasses displaying Erotes, animals, and skeletons of philosophers, two jugs with Victoria performing sacrifices, a patera with the bust of the personification of Africa, and a pair of paterae with busts in relief.
Jewels were also found in the discovered treasure. In the villa, many examples of instrumentum domesticum (household furnishings and items) were discovered as well.
Villa of Fannius Synistor
The Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor was excavated in 1900 on the Vona property, in Boscoreale. It was named after an inscription on a metal vase bearing the name was found in the house. In its later years, the villa was possibly owned by L. Herius Florus, whose seal was found in the house.
The villa was decorated with wonderful paintings in the Second Style, similar to the ones of the Villa of Mysteries, dating back to 40-30 B.C.. The most beautiful wall decorations went to the museums of Naples, New York, Brussels, Paris, Mariemont and Amsterdam.
The northern side of the courtyard gave onto a series of elegant rooms: a cubiculum decorated with town landscapes and architectural elements, and an oecus decorated with a megalographia painted against the background of a portico with columns counterposing the entrance. Here, a painting of Venus with Amor was on the back wall in the centre, Dionysus and Ariadne were on the left, and the Three Graces on the right. The side walls depicted kings from Macedonia and Greece against a red background, together with the philosopher Menedemos of Eretria. On the external sides of the entrance to the oecus was a fresco showing winged figures.
Rustic Villa located in Villa Regina
Villa located in Via Casone Grotta
This villa was recently discovered in the Boscoreale area. Its private sacellum (shrine) has been excavated, and the objects found are now on display.
Villa of Numerius Popidius Florus
A medium sized villa with rooms for the dominus (owner) and an area devoted to wine production. It was owned by Numerius Popidius Florus, as documented by the two votive inscriptions found.
Villa of Marcus Livius Marcellus
This villa has only been partially excavated because it is located underneath the modern town of Boscoreale. The villa is thought to have belonged to the Livia family based on the discovery of a seal bearing the name M. Livius Marcellus.
Villa located in the D’Acunzo property
It was a farm with a tavern (caupona) located alongside a road.