The astonishing mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale

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The Mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale are the finest mosaics anywhere in the Roman world

The mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale offer an insight into daily life in Ancient Rome. The site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Roman Villa del Casale was built between 320 and 370. The site is located about 5km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Enna. It is the richest and most complex collection of late Roman mosaics in the world.

During the first two centuries of the Empire, the economic conditions of Sicily worsened and the population in the countryside drastically decreased. Furthermore, the Roman government neglected the territory, which became a place of exile and a refuge for slaves and brigands.

Related articles: Images of Pompeii, the list of cities built by the Romans, Facts, Images & History of the Appian Way

Villa del Casale map
Villa del Casale map © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro

Rural Sicily entered a new period of prosperity at the beginning of the 4th century, with commercial settlements and agricultural villages flourishing.

Villa Romana del Casale- Two apses room © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro

Women in the Roman Empire did engage in sports

The currently most accredited hypothesis identifies the owner with a prestigious figure of the Constantinian age, Lucio Aradio Valerio Proculo Populonio, governor of Sicily between 327 and 331 and consul in 340.

Detail mosaic in the Villa Romana del Casale, 4th century AD. Author: Yann Forget

The games he had organized in Rome in 320 were so sumptuous that their fame lasted for a long time, and perhaps the depictions on some mosaics of the villa (the “Great Hunt” in corridor 25 and the “Circus Games” in the gymnasium of the thermal baths) intend to recall this event.

The was damaged during the domination of the Vandals and the Visigoths. The buildings remained in use during the Byzantine and Arab period. In the 12th century, a landslide covered the villa and the site was finally abandoned.

The first professional excavations were made by Paolo Orsi in 1929. Major excavations took place in the period 1950–60 led by Gino Vinicio Gentili.

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