Monday, April 22, 2013

The Roman Mosaics at Villa Romana, Piazza Armerina

Let's get our geek on to start the week. I've only got a couple of Sicily stores left to tell you (before I start on Amsterdam, where I'm writing to you from now!) but I've saved the best for last.

Welcome to the Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina, a wonderfully hidden gem (seriously, it's hard to find) with over 3,500 square metres of the most complex and best preserved Roman mosaics in the world.

In one of my undergrad art history classes I remember a particularly knowledgable prof make a (hilarious) remark about Roman homes: they were kind of tacky.

Picture it: the walls covered in colourful murals, the floors covered in narrative mosaics, then add furniture, knick knacks (the Romans loved 'em), fountains, and gardens, and you have a splendidly wacky home.

But seriously, the magic of Villa Romana is that it makes it relatively easy to picture what a grand Roman villa was really like thousands of years ago. It is wondrously, perfectly in tact.

The floors are carpeted in perfect mosaics, and fragments of the walls are still painted (a couple of millennia later!)

And of course, there are the famous Bikini Girls (they are actually wearing work out gear!)

The complex at Villa Romana is also beautiful, allowing you to walk over...

...and right on top of the mosaics!

(Which felt really wrong, and took a bit of convincing from my travel partner.)

And of course, Mike loved this creepy mosaic of a rat biting a child. Do you see it?

piazza armerina, sicily
If you ever find yourself in Sicily do not miss this site. It's worth getting lost for.

  • The easiest way to get there is to take a bus tour, or drive to Piazza Armerina and follow the signs. 
  • Allow yourself at least two hours to see the whole thing.
  • There are wonderful signs posted everywhere in Italian and English explaining the history of the site.
  • When we were there in March there were no food stalls open, but in peak season it looks like it has all the expected facilities. 
- Jess


  1. Wow - definitely very intricate. I loved that about the Moorish buildings in Southern Spain but certainly looks as the Romans had an eye for detail as well!

  2. This looks familiar! Last week I visited Villa Romana and I loved it :) Your blog is great, keep it going!


    1. Lucky lady! It is a pretty special place:)

      Thank you!

  3. I would have a ball imagining what the ancient, "wacky" villas looked like fitted with furniture and curios. This whole experience sounds amazing!

    1. It is pretty cool. Who knew the Romans were so eclectic?!


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