The Villa del Casale, near Piazza Armerina is perhaps the finest and most extensive display of mosaics in the Roman world. Although the owner of the villa is not known for certain, he must have been someone of great wealth and importance. A leading theory is that this was the country retreat of Maximianus Herculeus, who was Emperor of the western part of the Roman Empire between 285 and 305 AD. It may have been a hunting lodge and somewhere to entertain important guests – a kind of late-Roman Camp David. The mosaics include a 60-metre-long hunting scene, the famous ten "bikini girls" and many classical, whimsical, sporting and geometrical examples. They served to both amuse the host (for example in the private areas of the villa) and impress guests. The style is influenced by North African art, both in composition and the choice of colourful polychrome materials. The bright-coloured marble and other stones would have been imported specially for this luxurious display.
Piazza Armerina is in central-southern Sicily. The Roman villa was buried by a landslide in the twelfth century and was only fully excavated in the 1950s. It is now covered by a glass and perspex construction, with raised walkways to guide visitors around the site. There are 160 photos of the mosaics here. You can:
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