The mystery remains – are they training for a pentathlon or a beauty contest? These images form part of the finest surviving mosaics of ancient Rome. The Villa Romano del Casale, a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th Century is one of the not to be missed sites in Sicily.
Abandoned since the 12th Century after a landslide it wasn’t until the late 19th Century that the first archaeological excavations were undertaken.
The original owner was either a member of the Senatorial class or even perhaps of the Imperial family itself. The villa was most likely the permanent or semi-permanent residence of the owner and would have served as the administrative centre of the area as well as a family home.
It wasn’t until 1959 that Gino Vinicio Gentili excavated “the bikini girls’’ mosaic on the floor of the room dubbed the ‘Chamber of the Ten Maidens’.
Other mosaics include the so-called corridor of the Great Hunt, a vast strip of mosaics decorating the floor of a long hall illustrating scenes of hunting wild animals in India and North Africa to be captured and taken to Rome.
The mosaics were most likely created by North African craftsmen.
“To see such a complex bespoke work of ancient art in it is original context is exceptionally rare”
– Alastair Sooke, Art Critic & Historian
The Villa Casale is a popular destination for tour groups visiting Sicily and the numbers arriving at the site by the coach load can be overwhelming and mar the experience. The joys of travelling with a small group of no more than 10 people means that we are able to jump the queues and select our own route to explore. And, as we’ll be arriving from our overnight stay at the wonderful Tasca Lanza Cookery School located only a short drive away means we can enjoy exploring the site before the crowds arrive and the heat of the day sets in.
Whether you prefer to join our set date departure or combine with friends at any other time of the year our Sicily experience is guaranteed to delight the senses and provide an insider’s view of the people, history and culture of this fascinating island.