Roman Bikini Girls or Gymnasts in Sicily?
Roman Villa life in Southern Sicily (Motherland Tour Stop 5)
Hidden in a wooded valley 3 km southwest of Piazza Amerina lies the Unesco-listed Villa Romana del Casale, a lavish ancient Roman villa which is decorated with the richest, largest, and most complex collection of Roman floor mosaics in the world! The villa was thought to have been built around the early 4th century AD, and was presumed to have been the country retreat of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Maximianus.
The site was abandoned in the 12th century when a massive landslide buried the entire villa under up to 10m of mud, where it then remained (protected from the destructive elements and looters) for almost 700 years. It was not until the 1950’s that serious excavation work began to uncover the remains. What was discovered was the most elaborate collection of Roman mosaics in the world. Covering the entire floor of the villa, they are renowned for their vivid detail and intricate design as well as the range of subject matter and color.
The most famous mosaic depicts 9 (originally 10) girls in bikinis who are playing games and working out with weights. This scene is thought to be a depiction of the resident Roman aristocrats penchant for sponsoring gymnasts to come to the villa and engage in teams sports. And who says the bikini is a 20th century fashion creation?!?
This is the most unique and intact Roman site I have seen in all of Europe, and I consider it a “must” for anyone who travels the southern coast of Sicily!