THE ROMAN VILLA
Piazza Armerina is a pretty and historic town nestled into the heart of Sicily, but the real attraction is the Villa Romana del Casale. This stunning Roman complex is the main reason most people visit Piazza Armerina and it is certainly worth putting near the top of any Sicilian tourist itinerary.
Indeed it is seen as so important it is an Unesco World Heritage Site due to its containing the most complex and large collection of Roman mosaics in the world – there are 3535 square metres of them. Built in the early 4th century AD, the buildings were covered by a mudslide in the 12th century and though sporadic attempts were made over the centuries to uncover them, it wasn’t really until the 1950s that a concerted excavation effort began, which even with the vast amount now on display, is still not completed.
That all said the experience is not to be missed – you will never see anything else like these mosaics. Very naturalistic in style they give an insight into Roman life rarely glimpsed in other places. Perhaps most notable and charming are the famous “bikini girls” mosaics, depicting everyday scenes of Roman female athletes in the gym. There are also amazing scenes of animals and strange creatures, hunting and circus scenes, conjuring up a past magical world breathtaking in its detail and complexity. Apart from the mosaics the villa also gives a wonderful insight into the layout of a grand Roman house – the different rooms and their uses – and how rich Romans actually lived.
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