NIMPHEUM of the VILLA di PIPIANO

Detail of the mosaic decoration of a circular niche of the nymphaeum of Massa Lubrense, located in Marina della Lobra. The nynphaeum, of the Julius-Claudius age (50-55 B.C.), is one of the most representative of the genre and the best preserved in the whole Campania region. It is similar to those belonging to luxurious villas, consecrated to otium by the roman emperors all over the gulf of Naples, the villa to which the nymphaeum belongs is situated facing the isle of Capri, between Capo Massa and Punta Campanella. The extraordinariness of the nymphaeum is given both by the great scenographic articulation of its architectural structure and also by the fully mosaic dressed wall decorations. Built on a hill facing the sea, the nymphaeum is made of a wide wall measuring 24 mt. in lenght and 2,7 mt. height which has an alternate series of rectangular and circular niches. Each niche has gushing fountains and in the middle of the wall there’s a waterfall ending into a blue pool. The whole decoration of the wall mosaic shows a blooming garden, full of birds like in the third Pompeian pictorial style. 

The garden is behind a canefence, and before the Egyptian blue of the background. There are examples of still-life and depths framed with decorative themes of the fourth Pompeian pictorial style. The nymphaeum is made with different materials, different shades and colors of vitreous paste, mainly in Egyptian blue and dyed limestone, sea shells and stones. The mosaic was widely used for its qualities of pictura aetema for its brightness and its changing shades, increased by the local sun and sea. The nymphaeum was covered, like the other villas of the Sorrento coast, by the ashes of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 B.C.

The nynphaeum is in the park of the Museo Archeologico Georges Vallet a Piano di Sorrento.