When the 16th-century Palazzo Valentini underwent a major renovation in 2005, the magnificent remains of two ancient Roman villas and thermal baths dating from the 4th century AD were discovered underground. After years of additional excavation, this 20,000-square-foot Domus Romane complex is now open to the public.
Because it was buried for newer palaces for centuries, the Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini—or Roman Houses of Palazzo Valentini—archaeological site is well-preserved today, and visitors can still view original staircases, frescoes, mosaics, and inlaid marble pavement, which is protected by a glass floor. Multimedia light shows bring the ruins to life, revealing how these elegant villas—owned by Imperial Rome's most powerful families—once looked and offering visitors a glimpse into life in ancient Rome. In addition, a newly unearthed underground area opposite Trajan's Column holds the remains of a monumental public building; a virtual reconstruction of the column and its surrounding area show what they looked like during their heyday. These archaeological sites are only open to the public via a guided Roman Domus of Palazzo Valentini tour, so it’s essential to book ahead.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a fascinating stop for anyone interested in ancient Rome, and the multimedia effects make it particularly engaging for older kids.
- The archaeological remains are spread out over a number of different levels, and visitors using a wheelchair must contact the site ahead of time to arrange entrance.
- Large bags and backpacks cannot be taken inside.
- You'll be spending your visit on your feet, so wear comfortable shoes.
How to Get There
Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini archaeological site is located beneath the seat of Rome's Provincial Administration on Via IV Novembre near Piazza Venezia and the Roman Forums (Foro Traiano and Fori Imperiali). There are a number of bus routes that stop in Piazza Venezia, and the Colosseo metro stop is about a 10-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The Domus Romane is open daily except for Tuesdays and December 25, January 1, and May 1. In summer and on wet days, the tour doubles as an especially pleasant respite from the heat or rain.
Ancient Rome and Modern Technology
The Palazzo Valentini Domus Romane is one of a number of Roman archaeological sites that use light and sound effects to demonstrate the splendor of Imperial Rome; others to check out include the Ara Pacis and the Domus Aurea.