Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Magnificent Villa Romana del Casale

Quite literally in the geographic center of Sicily, in the middle of nowhere, there is this villa that has acres of mosaic. Being a mosaic fan, I had to see it. There were a few hurdles.
1) The closest town is Piazza Armerina. There are no direct buses to Piazza Armerina and we had to deal with reduced schedules for Saturday and Sunday.
2) The site is 5 km from town. No local buses this time of the year. We walked.
3) At 700+m high, PA was cold. A number of old ladies were sporting their fur coats.
4) There is hotel selection to speak of.

The mosaics were worth every bit of trouble.

Laid in the 4th century Ad, preserved by a mud slide from 1200s to 1800s, unlike bible stories in medieval church mosaics, these were hunting & games scenes, mythology scenes, not to mention geometric designs. They went on and on. Most of the mosaics are in an incredible state of preservation, as well as the whole villa itself, with its unique layout. This site had it all. Now I am wondering whether there is any point in going around seeing anything else. It would just be so anticlimactic.

Photo notes: One, all of the mosaics are embedded in the villa's floors and my photos are from platforms above. Most of the human figures are close to life size. Two, the mix of natural light and electric lighting was difficult to balance.

A corner of the famous hunting scene where it looks like "the kill" will be made with a large rock.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

And in another corner, bird watching of sorts.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

One of the mosaics is several hundred feet long and features the capture of wild animals in Africa and their loading onto ships for transport to Rome.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Bedroom.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

The famous Athletic Women.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

In one part of the villa, The Basilica, the was floor was covered with marble mosaics.
Villa Romana del Casale - Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

The Cathedral of Piazza Armenina.
Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Street food! Panini Caprese with fries please.
Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy

3 comments:

Kathy said...

They were renovating it when I was there. Looks a lot better from your photos. Did they get rid of the horrible plastic roof?

Crash Eddy said...

WOW again. This must make your whole trip worthwhile. Being so isolated must help to preserve it. Appears the UL corner of Athletic Women is turned over. How can that be? I thought these to be ceramic mosaics set into walls and floor.

Sun-Ling said...

@Kathy, there was only one area, the oval Hercules scene, still has the clear roof. Everything else has a solid roof, that shields the mosaic from the sun. We can see how they have improved from the descriptions in an older guidebook.

@Crash, I think it's the mudslide that buried the site did most of the preservation. You have very sharp eyes! On that particular floor, it originally had a geometric design, then remodeled to have the "bikini ladies" scene. That's extravagance!