Sicily Sights

Villa Romana del Casale (Imperial Roman Villa)

  • SP15, Contrada Casale Map It
  • Piazza Armerina
  • House/Mansion/Villa
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 06/07/2016

Fodor's Review

Some of the best mosaics of the Roman world cover more than 12,000 square feet under a shelter that hints at the layout of the original buildings. The exceptionally well-preserved Imperial Roman Villa is thought to have been a hunting lodge of the emperor Maximian (3rd–4th century AD). The excavations were not begun until 1950, and most of the wall decorations and vaulting have been lost. The mosaics were probably made by North African artisans; they're similar to those in the Tunis Bardo Museum, in Tunisia. The entrance was through a triumphal arch that led into an atrium surrounded by a portico of columns, after which the thermae, or bathhouse, is reached. It's colorfully decorated with mosaic nymphs, a Neptune, and slaves massaging bathers. The peristyle leads to the main villa, where in the Salone del Circo you look down on mosaics illustrating scenes from the Circus Maximus in Rome. A theme running through many of the mosaics—especially the long hall flanking the whole

of one side of the peristyle courtyard—is the capturing and shipping of wild animals, which may have been a major source of the master's wealth. Yet the most famous mosaic is the floor depicting 10 girls wearing the ancient equivalent of bikinis, going through what looks like a fairly rigorous set of training exercises.

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Sight Information

Address:

SP15, Contrada Casale, 4 km (2½ miles) southwest of Piazza Armerina, Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 94100, Italy

Map It

Phone:

0935-680036

Sight Details:

  • €10 (free 1st Sun. of the month)

Published 06/07/2016

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