Inhabited since prehistoric times, the territory of Massa Lubrense is rich in evidence of the past, extraordinary treasures often unknown.
The extreme part of the Sorrento Peninsula, in antiquity Sirenussai, then Athenaion and Promontorium Minervae, and today Massa Lubrense, which saw the first traffics of the Mediterranean, is still today pervaded by the myths of Ulysses and Sirens, Liparos and Argonauts.
In the prehistoric era there are fundamental testimonies for the study of the Paleolithic in the cave of the Scoglione in Marina del Cantone (Neanderthal remains of 120,000 – 35,000 years ago) and the Neolithic in the cave of the Noglie at San Costanzo.
In historical era we have to look for two of the most important sanctuaries of the ancient world: that of the Sirens and that of Athena Tirrena.
If for that of Athena there are now certainties, with the discovery of an Oscan rock inscription at the Punta della Campanella, in which are mentioned three “Meddices minervii” and which leads to the location of the sanctuary in the extreme part of the peninsula, we have not so many certainties for the oldest of the Sirens. All hypotheses are open: Desert, San Costanzo, Ieranto.
Epigraph in Oscan language, at Punta Campanella.
Dating uncertain between III and I century B.C.
“M. Gavius (son of) M., L. Pittaco (son of) M., L. Apulo (son of) Ma., meddices (of the sanctuary of) Minerva, caused this staircase to be made; they themselves approved.”
Along the coast prevail the Samnites, the Oschi or the Greeks; in the hills, referring mainly to the grave goods of Vadabillo and the other necropolis of the Desert, we must imagine a strong Etruscan influence, pressing from the hinterland to an outlet to the sea.
In the Roman era the coast was affected by the construction of a large number of maritime villas, which were matched as many rustic villas in the interior. From Puolo to Marcigliano, Lobra, Punta San Lorenzo, Mitigliano, Marina del Cantone, Isca and Crapolla, we find bold and sumptuous settlements as only the Romans could realize. Stand out in this context the villas of Capo di Massa and those of Chiaia, the first for the testimonies of Stazio, and the other for having returned us the largest nymphaeum decorated mosaic of the ancient world http://www.massalubrenseturismo.it/ninfeo-di-pipiano/ (now open to Villa Fondi – Piano di Sorrento).
The Roman villa of Punta della Campanella, built in the Tiber period, at the service of the imperial residence of Capri and therefore with functions different from the residence, deserves another mention.