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Villa buried by Pompeii eruption is unearthed
By Hilary Clarke in Rome
(Filed: 22/11/2005)

An archaeological dig on the Amalfi coast has revealed the first luxury villa to be built in the idyllic fishing village of Positano, a popular haunt of today's rich and famous.

Frescoe in Positano
A frescoe on a wall of the villa found in Positano

Two storeys of a first century millionaire's abode have been found under a church which was hidden for 2,000 years by the same volcanic eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79AD.

During renovation work on the church's crypt last summer, roof beams were found poking up just a few inches down.

They revealed an enormous building that certainly would have belonged to an important person in Imperial Rome.

A subsequent initial dig by archaeologists unearthed, about 6ft below the ground, two storeys of remarkably brightly-coloured wall frescoes and marble mosaics of mythical characters. They had been perfectly preserved.

The villa, which looked directly out on to the Mediterranean, is believed to have several terraces although more digs will be needed to see exactly how far it stretches.

Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian film-maker, is the most famous latter-day Positano villa-owner.

Past residents include Rudolph Nureyev, the ballet dancer, and Napoleon's marshall and later king of Naples, Joachim Murat. The American writers John Steinbeck and Tennessee Williams were frequent visitors to Positano.