Surrounded by the fairly drab 1960s urban landscape of Torre Annunziata, Oplontis justifies its reputation as one of the more mysterious archaeological sites to be unearthed in the 20th century. The villa complex has been imaginatively ascribed—from a mere inscription on an amphora—to Nero's second wife, Poppaea Sabina. Her family was well known among the landed gentry of neighboring Pompeii, although, after a kick in
the stomach from her emperor husband, she died some 15 years before the villa was overwhelmed by the eruption of 79. As Roman villas go, Poppaea's Villa, or Villa A, as it's called by archaeologists, is way off the top end of the scale.