Joanne Coughlan

07 May 2018

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Villa Romana del Casale – Wonders of Sicily

A major highlight of our visit to Sicily was Villa Romana del Casale, a Roman Villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 3km outside the town of Piazza Armerina Sicily, southern Italy. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, and has been designated as one of 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.

Historians have been unable to identify the owner, save to verify that he was extremely wealthy with the possibility that it was a holiday house for a member of the Imperial family. The villa had forty rooms including a gymnasium, bathhouse, basilica (huge meeting room), extensive dining room and a wide corridor stretching for about 70 metres. The floors in every room were covered in colourful mosaics, most of which have survived more or less intact. Needless to say, yours truly went crazy with the camera.

One large room features a number of Bikini Girls indulging in athletic pursuits. They are wearing a Roman version of that very modern article of clothing. Their bras, however, look more like breast bands, and the girls were pretty well flat-chested. 

The long corridor depicts the trials involved in importing exotic animals for the Roman circus, with handlers trying to cope with lions, tigers, elephants, bulls etc. The variety of animals is very impressive. Some of them, including the elephant, are being dragged on board ships by anxious looking workers.

There’s even a suite of rooms at the villa with children’s themes, probably the nursery.  You could easily spend all day here but there are many things to do in Sicily.  

Preserving such a miraculous place is an expensive business. In 2012, the site fully reopened following the completion of most of an ongoing EU-funded reconstruction project that began in spring 2007 and cost more than 18 million Euros.

Visit Villa Romana on our small group tour of Sicily and her Isles which leaves on 7th October 2018.  

This blog was contributed by one of our frequent travel clients – Margaret Farrell.

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