Fodor's Expert Review Villa Romana del Casale (Imperial Roman Villa)

Piazza Armerina House/Mansion/Villa Fodor's Choice

The exceptionally well-preserved Imperial Roman Villa is thought to have been a hunting lodge of the emperor Maximian (3rd–4th century AD) and offers some of the best mosaics of the Roman world, artfully covering more than 12,000 square feet. The excavations were not begun until 1950, and most of the wall decorations and vaulting have been lost, but the shelter over the site hints at the layout of the original building. 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, which line the way to the thermae, or bathhouse. 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... READ MORE

The exceptionally well-preserved Imperial Roman Villa is thought to have been a hunting lodge of the emperor Maximian (3rd–4th century AD) and offers some of the best mosaics of the Roman world, artfully covering more than 12,000 square feet. The excavations were not begun until 1950, and most of the wall decorations and vaulting have been lost, but the shelter over the site hints at the layout of the original building. 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, which line the way to the thermae, or bathhouse. 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 one entire side of the peristyle courtyard—is the capturing and shipping of wild animals, which may have been a major source of the owner'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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House/Mansion/Villa Archaeological Site/Ruins Fodor's Choice Historical

Quick Facts

SP15, Contrada Casale
Piazza Armerina, Sicily  94100, Italy

0935-680036

www.villaromanadelcasale.it

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €10 (free 1st Sun. of the month), €10 (free 1st Sun. of month)

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