Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, this documentary explores art and culture around the Bay of Naples before Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 ad. The bay was then the most fashionable destination for vacationing Romans. Julius Caesar, emperors, and senators were among those who owned sumptuous villas along its shores. Artists flocked to the region to create frescoes, sculpture, and luxurious objects in gold, silver, and glass for villa owners as well as residents of Pompeii and other towns in the shadow of Vesuvius. The film concludes with the story of the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the 18th century onward.