During the Archaic period (8 th century B.C.) Stabiae already played an important strategic and commercial role. The city reached its highest population density between its destruction by Sulla (89 B.C.) and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (79 A.D.). During this period, on the northernmost edge of the Varano hill, many villae were built taking advantage of the panoramic views. They were mainly residential villas, with beautifully decorated large apartments, thermal baths, porticoes and nymphaea. At present, only some of these villas, not entirely excavated yet, can be visited: Covering an area of 11,000m 2 , Villa San Marco is one of the largest Roman villae used as a residence; Villa Arianna, the most ancient, was named after a large mythological fresco on the far wall of the triclinium; and the so-called Second Complex which is separated from Villa Arianna by a narrow lane.