Just outside the town of Piazza Armerina in southern Sicily, the ruins of Villa Romana del Casale are home to the world’s largest collection of ancient Roman mosaics. These incredible designs date from the fourth century and were stunningly preserved by a 12th-century landslide before being unearthed in the 19th century.
Villa Romana del Casale, once an ancient hunting lodge and today one of Italy’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, includes an extensive array of excavated rooms. Admire the spectacular mosaic floors and decorations covering over 32,000 square feet (3,000 square meters), including the famous Bikini Girls and a mythological scene that shows the labors of Hercules.
The best way to visit is by booking a private tour that includes transportation from Agrigento, Taormina, or Palermo. Because there are so many rooms to see—including private apartments, state rooms, and thermal baths—visiting with a tour guide helps travelers appreciate the site’s historical importance and interpret the mosaics’ compositions and themes. Villa entry is ticketed and there can be long lines at the entrance, so it’s best to consider booking a tour that includes skip-the-line tickets.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Villa Romana del Casale is a must-see for fans of ancient Roman history and art.
- If traveling with children, consider booking a tour with a family-friendly guide so the kids can fully enjoy their visit.
- The villa has not yet been fully excavated, but there is still plenty to see.
- Entrance to the villa is ticketed—consider booking a skip-the-line tour to save time.
- Most of Villa Romana del Casale is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Villa Romana del Casale is located in the Sicilian countryside outside Piazza Armerina, an easy day trip from Agrigento, Taormina, or Palermo. Public buses run from the town center to the archaeological site.
When to Get There
The villa is partially covered, so it can be visited even during inclement weather. The site is open daily (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) from 9am and closes at 4pm in winter and 6pm in summer. On weekends in July and August, the villa closes at 11pm, so consider an evening visit to avoid the daytime heat and crowds.
Visiting the Nearby Valley of the Temples
Not far from Villa Romana del Casale, the Valley of the Temples houses seven spectacular Doric temples dating from the fifth century BC, when the area was part of Magna Graecia. Consider visiting both of these archaeological sites on a single tour.