La Villa Romana del Casale

October 8, 2010 / Art & Archaeology
Piazza Armerina, Sicily
piazzaarmerina1The Roman villa just outside of town here was built in the 4th century as a luxury hunting lodge for a Roman aristocrat, or possibly the Emperor himself. A complex of around 40 rooms, its main attractions are the incredible mosaics on the floors of almost every room and hall, including the toilets! Although the roof and upper parts of the walls are gone, the entire villa seems intact.

Occupied from the 4th century to the 12th, first by the Romans, followed by the Byzantines, the Arabs and ultimately the Normans, it was then abandoned and fell into disrepair. A major landslide in the 12th century buried the villa and its mosaics in mud (which is responsible for their preservation) until being partially uncovered by archeologists in 1881 and more extensively in the 1920s and 30s.

piazzaarmerina3The mosaics cover an area of about 38,000 sq. ft and can be viewed from raised walkways. One of most amazing is the Corridor of the Hunt, a passageway that runs the width of the villa, a virtual explosion of scenes of the hunt. There is no shortage of animals, fruit, flowers, wreaths, cupids, fish, mythological creatures and groups of people doing every day things. It is a virtual storyboard of life in the 4th century!

Piazza Armerina is located in the province of Enna, south-central Sicily about 1-1/2 hours drive from Catania.

Remember to click on the images to enlarge them!



Rosemary and Bob Connelly

by Rosemary and Bob Connelly

Artists who fulfilled their dream to “Live Cheap and Make Art” in Italy. Their website showcases their watercolors and photographs.

7 Responses to “La Villa Romana del Casale”

  1. Anna Caputi

    I’m glad to see that there is a roof, visited here about 40 years ago and it was open to the elements.

  2. Mairin O'Mahony

    I heard that the villa is closed right now for restoration? If this is true, does anyone know when it might reopen? I was knicked out by it the first time I visited, some 20 tears ago and would love to include it on my next trip in the spring.

  3. Gian Banchero

    I would really recommend visiting the villa during the cooler months in that during the high heat of summer the enclosed villa is one big oven, though still worth the experience. Also it’s best to see the floors during the off season being one really needs quiet to absorb the magnificence of it all… If one is fortunate to have a docent wet the floors with water the mosaics will seem as though they were just made, what wonderful brilliant colors… Yep Pasquale, Italy IS one big museum, everywhere one is walking with history, be it with food, historic buildings, etc., but most of all with the traditional and ancient Italian penchant for perfectionism that shows itself in modern fashions from clothing, furniture, theater, architecture and more. Thank you Rosemary and Bob for the photos and article!

  4. I must apologize, I did not know this site was under restoration. It is not closed completely as I understand, but there are currently only a few rooms open. I agree with Gian, visit during the off-season and you will not have to brave the high temperatures or the tourist crowds. When the restorations are complete I highly recommend a visit. It’s incredible.


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