When given an opportunity, humans have the tendency to make their living environments rich with opulent decorations since the early civilizations. Ancient Roman villas are one of the supreme examples of environments for domestic life using artistic depictions on decorations.
In the Roman times, the word “villa” was first used to call the houses living upper-class people, and they were constructed on the rural sites, out of city walls. Villas were not only residential buildings but also an administration center the surrounding land. The owners mostly are from upper classes, and aristocrats so they were public figures, and their private properties were familiar places to meet with society.
Given the situation that Roman aristocrats compete with each other, a great way to demonstrate power and wealth is to decorate the house with expensive and opulent craftsmanship. The villas usually have spaces devoted to the public servants and guests such as the reception hall.
Today, only a few ancient Roman villas have been preserved intact. The most typical ones can be seen in Italy, around Pompeii, Herculaneum. There is also a well-preserved villa in Sicily somewhere near Piazza Armerina called “Villa Romana del Casale”, a worldwide famous site mostly for the wealthy mosaic floor pavements.
I encountered this fantastic ancient site previous summer (2017) when I was touring around Sicily, and it was a great experience for me to inspect such beautiful artwork. Here is my blog article about the big cities of Italy.
Villa del Casale
Villa del Casale is believed to be constructed during 4th and 5th centuries BC, as the heart of an important agricultural economic center. After that time due to natural storms, the villa buried underground and became discovered in 1920. Today, the villa is still under construction for an ongoing restoration project and is added to the list of UNESCO world heritage.
The villa is composed of three parts, formed in the shape of a peristyle each having its own terraces. One of the sections is devoted to the private departments, the others are in a dining room, spa complex and the toilets. The plan gives such an impression that it was a simultaneously developed structure, adding some parts later in the course of time.
The floor is covered with 3,500 meters of mosaic pavements, which makes the villa unique of its kind in the world. It is also a great documentation about the social and political status of the Roman empire. From the depiction, it is believed the owner to be an important political power. The villa is believed to be owned by the former ruler of Sicily Lucius Aurelius Valerius Proculus.
The mosaic themes vary over aspects of Roman culture ranging from social to political. It is possible to see scenes from Homer’s poems, characters from Greko – Roman mythology, Roman games, girls doing sport, fruits, civilians of the era, hunting animals and even geometric decorations.
I am especially amazed by the mosaics depicting athletic girls, and their outfits resemble bikinis of the modern world. When looking at these mosaics, it made me think about the lifestyle in the early times. It is a proof of a civilized life which was held almost 2000 years ago. Click here for more information about the mosaics.
Villa del Casale is a perfect place to visit if you like mosaic artworks and Roman history. Today it there is the most frequently visited site in Sicily, so it is definitely worthwhile to visit and witness this living history of Roman luxury. Especially if you are an art lover, there is must place to visit for you.