The mosaics of Piazza Armerina: the Villa Romana del Casale
31 December 2018

The mosaics of Piazza Armerina: the Villa Romana del Casale

The Villa Romana del Casale reigns in Piazza Armerina with its splendid mosaics

The Villa Romana del Casale is one of the most famous monuments in Sicily. The remains of this building are located 4 km from Piazza Armerina, a small town in the Sicilian hinterland.

Since 1997, Villa Romana del Casale has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it one of the many monuments that Sicily can boast among the humanity’s heritage. Furthermore, the Villa is now one of the oldest preserved buildings in Sicily.

The building has more than 3500 square meters of mosaic paving. However, the building is known also because of its columns, statues, capitals and coins, which every year attract thousands of visitors.

Originally, it was said that the Villa belonged to a wealthy Roman family of IV BC; however, according to more recent studies, the Villa belonged either to an important Roman governor or, even, to Massimo Erculeo, a very powerful Roman official.

However, certainly the mosaics have helped most to make it famous. They are simply real works of art, set between the floors and walls of this ancient residence. Some scholars and experts agree that the mosaics were made by African masters.

The mosaics tell different stories. There is a section of mosaics dedicated to mythology and Homeric poems; other sections are dedicated to the Roman life of everyday, others are addressed to nature. The mosaic of the Girls in Bikini attracts the visitors a lot: the mosaic depicts ten girls in bikinis, intent on making athletic exercises.

Mosaic Girls in bikini
Detail of the mosaic, depicting one of the girls in bikini

From a technical point of view, the Villa can be divided into several sections: the monumental entrance; the central part of the villa, built around a courtyard with a garden; a large hall with three apses (trichora); the termal baths, until now accessible to visitors.

Initially it was thought that the Villa was built in a very long time (from 50 to 80 years to build it); other researchers believe, however, that it was built within fifteen years. Still today, there is not a common opinion on the timing of construction of the Villa and there are no certain sources about that.

However, what we know for sure is that visiting the Villa Romana del Casale is a unique experience, as well as a great opportunity to get a close look at an ancient house, but so well preserved. Lovers of archaeology and Greco-Roman history should visit it, for sure.

Unique and inimitable, the Villa Romana del Casale certainly could not miss in the itinerary of our excursion Agrigento and Piazza Armerina.

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