The Mosaics of Piazza Armerina
Also among the
highlights of our trip to Sicily was our visit to the Villa romana del Casale
in Piazza Armerina.
It is the ruin of a late Roman villa. It seems to have been a hunting lodge for the emperor Maximian (ruled 286-305 CE).
The truly amazing thing about the villa are the mosaics.
Like all Roman
villas, the mansion is designed as a series of rooms around a central courtyard.
There are also other rooms--like a bath house, and a throne room--that extend from the house.
Even the rooms indicated as having been store rooms had remarkable mosaics of geometic designs.
The other rooms all had human and animal figures, mostly variations on themes of hunting and sports.
In one room were gladiators posing.
In another room, chariots racing around a long racetrack that seems to a replica of the Circus Maximus in Rome.
Another room had a woman dancing, and female and male figures playing some sort of game.
This room is known as "The Little Hunt" room, because of its intricate mosaic of hunting various wild animals.
Another room had various fishing scenes with children.
had a mosaic of women wearing bikinis and playing ball games. The winners are
awarded crowns and palm branches.
(This is probably a later mosaic than the rest, since the level of the floor is higher than the others, and underneath it is another mosaic.)
The most amazing
of the mosaics is called "The Great Hunt," and fills up a long hallway
60 meters/200 feet long.
It shows wild animals being caught, transported, and then hunted for sport.
At the center of this mosaic is a richly dressed fellow surrounded by bodyguards, who is probably the emperor Maximian, watching the hunt.
Another room has chariot races with children pulled by birds.
In this room were children performing the various daily activities of adults.
Another children's room, with children scared by animals and birds in this one--and one child being bitten by a rat!
This room is named after the figure of Orpheus playing music at the center of it.
There so many rooms of all shapes and sizes: it was an imperial residence, after all.
In one room were scenes from the Odyssey: below, Ulysses with the Cyclops.
There wasn't much going on in the town of Piazza Armerina itself, though it had some nice features.
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