Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina
PIazza Armerina, the mosaics of the Roman Villa del CasaleThe city of Piazza Armerina is located in the southern Erei mountains at a height of 700 metres above sea level a short distance from the main town of Enna in the heart of the most harsh and untamed area of Sicily. The town was constructed under the orders of the Norman king Roger II and is surrounded by woods and the forests of the Ronza Park. Piazza Armerina, now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for the Villa Romana del Casale which was constructed in the 4th century and contains some of the finest examples of Roman mosaics created by African craftsmen. The villa was constructed as a result of increasing pressure on the wealthy Roman classes, in particular senators and quaestors, to move away from the cities to country estates due to growing fiscal pressure and the burden of their responsibility to maintain public services. And so the owners themselves came to occupy these estates which were no longer cultivated by slaves but by colonists. Considerable sums of money were spent on the enlargement and embellishment of country residences or villas to make them more comfortable. The Villa del Casale is an example of a villa that underwent such a process, as is the Villa del Tellaro near Noto. The Villa del Casale comprises a palatial entrance with 3 arches which provided access to the baths complex with its octagonal room and to the residential complex which comprised a hallway, a quandrangular peristyle, an oval peristyle, the corridor of the "Great Hunt", service rooms and principal apartments on the north, east and south sides of the building.