Villa Romana del Casale Hotels
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Visit Villa Romana del Casale
The town of Piazza Armerina is located on a high plateau (almost 700 metres above sea level) in central Sicily about 30 km to the south of Enna.
Piazza Armerina itself is quite a vibrant town, and has both medieval and baroque areas to explore but it is the remains of the Roman villa, the Villa Romana del Casale, on the edge of town that attracts the most visitors.
Explore the Villa Romana del Casale
Much the most popular attraction in this quiet part of Italy is the Villa Romana del Casale, 4 kilometres south of Piazza Armerina.
Of the 3rd century villa itself there is not a great deal remaining (although there are enough sections of wall to help give a feel for the grandeur of the original villa), but the mosaic floors (and some sections of wall) have been uncovered and are in very good condition, extensive (more than 3000 square metres), and extremely impressive.
The huge villa is thought to have belonged to Maximianus Herculeus who was co-emperor from 286 to 305 AD.
The mosaics reflect scenes from life in these times and there are hunting scenes, mythical characters, people going about their daily business and much more to discover in the intricate series of mosaics.
There is a large central portico with columns around which all the rooms of the villa are arranged. At the eastern end is a long corridor decorated with scenes of the great hunt where exotic animals from around the world were captured to be taken back to Roman ampitheaters to entertain the Romans. This corridor is magnificent in the detail and charm of its pictures and is 60 meters long!
Perhaps everyone's favourite is the 'bikini girls' mosaic which shows bikini-clad Roman ladies enjoying themselves with exercise and sport - I think it's so popular because it shows that the Romans were really just like us, not just statuesque toga-clad figures, and that helps us make a connection with them. Whatever the reason, its very impressive!
Other rooms in the villa depict themes ranging from fishing to dancing and even mythological figures such as Pan and the one-eyed giant, Cyclops. Even the servants rooms are decorated though often with patterned mosaics rather than pictures. Some rooms have frescoes as well as mosaics but these are not so well preserved. There are also courtyards and fountains in the villa and a nymphaeum to keep the air cool and provide a constant supply of water.
The mosaics really are astonishing in both their quantity and quality. After visiting the Villa del Casale you will find it difficult to admire the small, incomplete sections of mosaics often on display in villas and museums around Europe!
Where to visit nearby?
Those of you that enjoyed exploring the ruins of the Roman villa in Piazza Armerina might want to go and explore the extensive Greek ruins at Morgantina. For lovers of baroque architecture the nearby town of Aidone has more baroque architecture to admire though the Baroque stars are Syracuse, Noto, Ragusa and Modica.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.