Piazza Armerina 01/03/2016
After an eventful drive and an even more eventful day seeing the best Roman Mosaics in the world we are discussing the most of important of subjects; Have we had just had the worst pizza in the Piazza or in fact the world. It was pretty awful but to be fair not as bad as a Domino’s or any deep fried Scottish offering, but it has stuck the roof of my mouth to the cardboard box it came in using re-heated congealed cheese and palm oil as the adhesive. Moving on.
Local knowledge had placed upon us the town of Chiaramonte Gulfi as the best place this side of Rotherham to purchase the world’s best Olive Oil and Pork based foodstuffs. There seems to be a running theme of best in the world in this blog and so to add a bit of balance we did not manage to acquire either products. This was entirely due to the fact that the town is about as wide as a Motorhome and has no parking spots for one either. We did manage to hit the town mid-morning on market day and to anyone au-fait with the Italian way of life they will know this turns the sleepiest places into a gun-toting, rebel-rousing, stand in the street and talk endlessly kind of metropolis. In simple words we caused chaos. The end result was an officer of the law who looked older than my dad trotting after us blowing his whistle and waving his arms like Kermit the Frog on Acid. I am no Phil Drabble and consequently am not fluent in Sheep Dog commands in English, never mind Italian with a heavy Sicilian accent. The executive decision was to ignore him; which we did and guessed he was too unfit to catch us up and we fled at the speed of a snail pork-less, oil-less and on to the mosaics. But before that you can watch the video of us carrying out the manoeuvres described above by clicking the picture below:
Chiaramonte Gulfi: Click on the Picture to watch the Video
Villa Romana del Casale
The Villa Romana del Casale (Sicilian: Villa Rumana dû Casali) is a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, and has been designated as one of 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.
The villa was constructed (on the remains of an older villa) in the first quarter of the 4th century AD, probably as the centre of a huge latifundium (agricultural estate) covering the surrounding area. How long the villa had this role is not known, maybe for fewer than 150 years. The complex remained inhabited and a village grew around it, named Platia (derived from the word palatium(palace). The villa was damaged and perhaps destroyed during the domination of the Vandals and the Visigoths. The outbuildings remained in use, at least in part, during the Byzantine and Arab periods. The site was abandoned in the 12th century AD after a landslide covered the villa. Survivors moved to the current location of Piazza Armerina.
The villa was almost entirely forgotten, although some of the tallest parts of the remains were always above ground. The area was cultivated for crops. Early in the 19th century, pieces of mosaics and some columns were found. The first official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century.
The first professional excavations were made by Paolo Orsi in 1929, followed by the work of Giuseppe Cultrera in 1935-39. The last major excavations took place in the period 1950-60. They were led by Gino Vinicio Gentili, after which a cover was built over the mosaics. In the 1970s Andrea Carandini carried out a few localized excavations at the site.
There is nothing that prepares you for the sheer scale, complexity, beauty and pictorial description of Roman life as this. After many years of closure the mosaics were put on display in 2013 and the people responsible have done a wonderful job, it is truly mind-blowing. An elevated walkway takes you around from room-to-room with the highlight being the Great Hunt. There are about 3500 sq. metres on display in total; for the sporty among you that is half a football pitch of tiny bits of rock arranged as a piece of art.
The Great Hunt
Man V Rhino
Man V Buffalo
All aboard the Skylark
Berlin on a Saturday Night
Shall we Dance
Bar bells, Balls
Girl with ball
Shadows not Skis
The Naughty Ones
The Small Hunt
Is this really 2,000 years ago
Check out the walls
Some other Close-ups
Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and we will post soon
Love to All