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The Grand Tour of Antiquity: A Photo Gallery

Southern Italy

If Rome was the New York of antiquity, the Bay of Naples was the Hamptons. Every summer, the wealthy of the capital traveled to the craggy, sun-drenched shores, where they could relax in their luxury villas and enjoy the pleasures of the world's first seaside resorts. On hot Italian nights, the hills of the bay would echo with the sound of drunken carousing, as revelers jaunted from one beach to the next, quaffing fresh oysters at nude swimming parties. The town of Baiae became famous for truly Herculean debauchery, with prostitutes sailing off-shore in barges, garlanding the waves with rose petals and competing with one another in singing competitions. "Unmarried women are common property," complained one straight-laced visitor. "Old men behave like young boys, and a lot of young boys like young girls."

A modern interpretation of party time by the Bay of Naples, from the 1980 film Caligula.

An excavated holiday villa in Herculaneum, buried along with Pompeii in the eruption of Vesuvio in AD 79. Wealthy Romans competed with one another in displays of extravagance, building pools filled with fish, elaborate gardens and private aqueducts.

Roman beach culture: Ancient nymphets sport prototype bikinis in a fresco from a villa in Sicily.

The ruins of the Villa Jovis on the island of Capri—the supposed "den of lechery" of the Emperor Tiberius, who retired here for fifteen years (it was rumored that he had teams of sprintriae, "adepts at unnatural practices," to rouse his flagging passions).

The Amalfi Coast, once dotted with Roman luxury villas (the view is from Il Sentiero degli Dei, the Trail of the Gods—an ancient hiking route high in the mountains).

Spectacular cliffs of Capri. Tiberius was said to torture his victims at his villa, then fling them to their deaths down these precipices.


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Also by Tony Perrottet:
The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

What was it like to attend the ancient olympic games?

As the summer Olympics return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in all its compelling spectacle.
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