The excavations at Stabiae occupy the top of a long ridge. The buildings found so far include two large villas, parts of two other villas and the edge of the Roman town of Stabiae. There is much work left to be done and there are plans to develop this site and to make it more accessible to visitors.
In Roman times this ridge almost certainly looked out over the sea. Today the modern town of Stabiae lies at the bottom of the ridge.
The two sites which are accessible to the public are Villa Arianna and Villa San Marco. Villa Arianna is a very large villa with good wall paintings which exploited its view over the sea well. Villa San Marco is also large and it is notable for the work which the archaeologists are putting in to recovering the garden. Villa San Marco lay adjoining the roman town of Stabiae.
Both of these villas were destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, as was the town. They appear to have been overwhelmed by the volume of ash ejected by the volcano which would have crushed their roofs and covered them to a considerable depth.
The two villas at Stabiae are relatively demanding to find by public transport and foot. A significant walk is involved. It is planned that a funicular railway shall run from the station at Via Nocera to a footpath running along the edge of the ridge which will serve all of the sites. At present (AD 2010) this remains a plan and the only way to access the sites is to walk around the hill on the existing system of public roads.
The route described starts at the station named Via Nocera on the Circumvesuviana and effectively requires a series of left hand turns to carry the walker around the side of the hill to a position above the station at Via Nocera. Having made a few mistakes on this route the author has added the GPS locations of some of the more difficult turns. Remember that, if you use a GPS, the ovoid used is WGS84; other ovoids such as that used for mapping in the UK will result in errors which will completely invalidate the locations given.
Starting from the railway station at Via Nocera, leave the station and turn left down towards Via Europa and on to via Puglia. Via Puglia is a busy main road. Proceed along until you come across a large white building on your left (c. 200 metres). If you have come down the south side of the road, there is a crossing in front of this building. Just past the white building, on the left, is a turn up to Via Varano (GPS WGS84 40 41 46.39 N 14 29 23.79 E): take it.
Climb up Via Varano, around the corner, then on up to the top of the hill. Via Varano is complex; not only does it run around in a square but there is bit more of it further along on the journey. The best bet is to keep straight on until just before the main road curves in from the right (GPS WGS84 40 41 53.01 N 14 29 23.79 E). If you are going to Villa Arianna turn left, if you are going to Villa San Marco go straight on.
The busy road is Passegiata Archeologica and you will follow it for just over a kilometre to get to Villa San Marco. As you follow it, it will join a major road. Villa San Marco is at the end of a lane 100 metres after the junction with the main road. The turning is at GPS WGS84 40 42 10.98 N 14 30 04.75 E.
A summary of the train services is available.
The author has not completed the journey described, it was one of those days when everything went wrong, the train broke down, he got off at the wrong station and finally reached Villa Arianna just before closing time. He has subsequently visited the site by coach and has seen the vital turn onto Via Varano but a check of this route on foot will have to wait for another visit. It is strongly recommended that you take a map with you and assume that these notes should only be used for guidance.