The Villa of Pollius Felix, protected by the gods


The Villa of Pollius Felix, on the tip of the Capo di Sorrento, was mentioned in ancient literature by Publius Papinius Statius (Naples, ca. 45-96 AD), one of the greatest epic authors from the Flavian Age.

Statius wrote a collection of 32 poems known as “Silvae”, which help to truly understand the cultural and social background and the age he lived in; he dedicated the collection to his friend Pollius Felix, a member of the Pozzuoli aristocracy, whose family probably had an important role in the city. Pollio had taken on public roles in his youth, but Statius reports he soon chose to leave politics and retire into the quiet life of his Sorrento villa, built in the 1st century AD.

In Book II of his “Silvae”, the poet describes the location of his friend’s villa: Curving headlands on either hand / Frame crescent-shaped waters, forming the tranquil bay. / Nature grants space, and the streaming shore separates / The heights, running inland between overhanging cliffs. / [T]he bay / Rejoices in the protection of its dual deities. Here the land / Is saved from harm, and here the savage waters are tamed. / The sea is wonderfully calm. Here weary waves lay aside / Their fury, and wild southerly winds breathe more gently. […] / What a host of delights! Should I wonder / Most at the place itself or the ingenuity of its owner?

This magical place is also known as Bagni della Regina Giovanna (Queen Joanna’s Baths), as Joanna II, queen of Naples between 1414 and 1435, often came here to relax with her young lovers.

Villa of Pollius Felix – Queen Joanna’s Baths
Sorrento (Naples)

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May 8, 2019