In a collaboration with Wine Pleasures (the place I am working at during the month of July) I got to write a few articles about Sicily, Italy. I feel really proud of what I’ve written so I will be sharing them on my own blog! I hope you enjoy them.
Imagine having access to your very own gym, half a dozen baths, an area to cook meals and eat, a place to lounge and talk philosophy with otherwise villagers, and even a track; all in one place. Well that is exactly what the Romans who lived at the Villa Casale in Piazza Armerina, Sicily had. This villa was constructed in the 4th century AD and sightseers can still visit the ancient mansion today. In the year 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world. After a landslide in the 12th century the villa was partially buried and not excavated until 1929 by an Italian archaeologist.
Out of the 63 rooms in this villa there was a gymnasium, public and private rooms, kitchens and dining rooms, baths which were both public and private, furnace rooms, cooling off rooms, and even a track to run on! 42 of these rooms have beautifully decorated mosaics that tell stories about what life was like back then and served as decoration for the guests and residents alike. It took workers six days to lay 11 square feet of tile and in total 21,000 days to complete the process.
Mosaics are all around you as you walk into each room of this Roman mansion. These mosaics were made out of multicolored marble and glass. You can point out a picture of a fist fight between Eros, more commonly known as Cupid, and Pan who was the god of the wild. Also on the walls and floors of the villa you can see Ulysses offering wine to Polyphemus, hunters and gatherers, dancing women, and even girls dressed in bikinis. The mosaic of the girls in bikinis shows them demonstrating different olympic events such as the discus, running, lifting weights, and one girl who wears a crown over her head indicating that she has won.
The layout of the villa shows that in addition to private bedrooms there were also public rooms which were open to citizens of the town. Guest rooms were also included in the design on this Roman mansion to house the different slaves and other servers. The first room that visitors would have stepped into once arriving to the villa was the courtyard on the southwestern corner. There they would have marveled over the columns, fountains, and mosaic flower motifs.
According to the tourism board of Italy the Roman Villa of the Casale is the most Roman place on the island so if you find yourself in Sicily it is highly recommended that you go. Transportation is easy by car, train, or plane and there are many different tours that groups or individuals can take. It’s truly magnificent to see such a remarkable place that has been through so much history.