Back to menu | Back to topic (Christianity)

Villa della Palombara (di Plinio)

In an area known as "La Palombara", to the south of the Canale dello Stagno, part of a villa has been excavated in 1713, 1934, and 1989-1992. In the 18th century it was suggested, that it was the Laurentine villa of Pliny the Younger, which Pliny described in one of his letters (Epist. II, 17), but there is nothing which leads to the identification.



Plan of the villa. From Ramieri 1995, fig. 3.

In anqituity the villa was very close to the beach. To the north is a peristylium with porticus, accessible from the west (opus reticulatum, dated to the second quarter of the first century AD). The porticus surrounded a garden with a basin in the centre. It has a double row of masonry columns, that were covered with stucco imitating a fluted shaft. In late antiquity a low balustrade was built between the columns of the inner row. An arch of the inner row was restored in the 1930's. Behind this arch is a large room that may have been a triclinium.



The east part of the peristylium seen from the south.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.



The peristylium seen from the north-east. The presumed triclinium is in the foreground.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.

To the west of the peristylium are bathing rooms. Here a black-and-white mosaic was found of Neptune drawn by hippocamps, sea monsters and fish. It has been dated to the reign of Antoninus Pius. The westernmost room contains a round structure, that may have been a basin for fish. A few rooms to the south of the peristylium (one with a polygonal apse) have been dated to the second and early third century AD. Their function is unknown.



The mosaic with Neptune in the bathing rooms.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.



The mosaic with Neptune in the bathing rooms.
From Ramieri 1995, fig. 2.



The round structure that may have been a basin for fish.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.

The living quarters seem to have been in the south-east part of the excavated area (opus reticulatum). They were apparently surrounded by a long, subterranean corridor (cryptoporticus), that has been preserverd best at the south-east side. One side has a long row of rectangular niches, the opposite side has one, semicircular niche.

To the north and north-east of the villa a stretch of the Via Severiana and a small Christian church can be seen.



A stretch of the Via Severiana.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.



The little Christian church.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.



The little Christian church.
Photograph: Silvano Sanges.

[jthb - 9-Oct-2005]