The thermal baths

The senses tell the frigidarium

A curtain between myth and reality

Entering this large octagonal space, we are immediately captivated by the architectural lines and the marine procession depicted on the outside of the mosaic. Nereids and Tritons are shown in the water, with a multitude of coloured tiles embellishing their robes and ornaments, such as armilles and necklaces. You almost get the impression that you are the protagonist of a mythical tale. Even the presence of ichthyocentaurs and other sea creatures captivates the eye of the beholder, drawing them into the scene. In the innermost section, on the other hand, again in an atmosphere linked to mythology, a number of herotes are intent on fishing, arranged in pairs, on four brightly coloured boats. Interrupting the fantastic tale are the depictions of changes of clothes, depicted with detailed accuracy in the small apsidal niches.

Dialogues between the waters

Looking into this environment, so rich in history and experience, is so evocative that it seems impossible not to hear the echoes of those who frequented it at the beginning of the 4th century AD.  The voices of the high-ranking personalities housed in the niches of the changing rooms, which still occupy the perimeter of the octagonal space, seem to come back to life, mingling with those of the people who were bathing in the two pools on opposite sides. Inside, some were splashing around, others were talking business or resting, lulled by the soothing trickle of the water flowing steadily down from the fountains against the walls. Inexplicably, the mythical scenes depicted in the room’s central mosaic also invite us to immerse ourselves in the marine atmosphere. It is so skilfully described that it evokes the waves of the sea, inhabited by fish and fantastic creatures, to the point where we can hear the lapping of the waves on the rocks occupied by Nereids. The rustle of the nets lifted by the herotes becomes consistent and reaches us through an almost two-thousand-year-old silence…

A concert of fragrances

Among the rooms of the late antique residence, the frigidarium was a place, like others, destined to have an atmosphere imbued with fragrances and essences. Close your eyes and try to imagine the aroma of the spiced wines that used to be mixed in the water inside the two tanks at the time. Beech ash or sand, horsetail powder, olive oil and clay were used for washing, distinguished by their characteristic fragrance.

A fresh perception

The first impression given to those entering the frigidarium was that it was a cold space. This was amplified by the presence of ice-cold water and marble-covered pools that kept the temperature constant. Its size, the initial presence of marble cladding on the walls and a possible oculus-shaped opening in the centre of the dome did not allow the room to retain the heat coming from the subsequent warmer paths. What a chill the people must have felt when staying in the frigidarium, further amplified by the coexistence of different stone materials that nevertheless reflected its public use.

The marble from the regions of the empire to decorate the basilica

The rural sacrifice

The protagonists of the mosaic and the military themed frescoes

The senses tell the Bi-Apsed room

A line of armed men for an important Dominus

Semi-public rooms

An individual who has attracted the attention of scholars

The senses tell the bi-apsed ambulatory – Corridor of the “Great Hunt”

Form of greeting or ritual?

A view of the race from the imperial gallery

The senses tell the massage room

The senses tell the monumental entrance

The astral interpretation of the mosaic

The realistic depiction of a spa procession with a high-ranking female figure

The protagonists of the mosaics

The senses tell the Quadrangular Peristyle

A small room embellished with marble

The late antiquity residence: locus amoenus and centre of administrative activities in the heart of Sicily

The mosaics of the late antiquity residence

A hidden meaning

Solemn and majestic architecture to welcome a high-ranking commissioner

An organic microcosm: the structure of the villa

The golden age: hypotheses about the villa’s period of construction and clues

The senses tell the Sacellum of the Lares

An eloquent symbol: the signum

A dialogue between mythological and realistic scenes

An official ceremony to welcome the Dominus

Banquets and panegyrics enlivened the vast hall, against the background of a floor mosaic celebrating the feats of Hercules

The senses tell the room in the private apartment known as “small hunt”

The senses tell the frigidarium

A large colonnaded portico, a place of connection between the rooms

A small room used as a privileged entrance to the baths

The main nuclei of the Domus

The Latifundium

A chariot race, set in the circus Maximus of Rome, connects the villa to the city and centre of power

The senses tell the Vestibule

High-ranking characters depicted in the mosaics of the apsidal niches of the frigidarium

Auspicious symbols and perhaps the initials of the commissioner’s name decorate the mosaic of the apsidal room

Is the profile of the dominus hidden among the scenes depicted in the mosaics?

Worship of the Lares

The senses tell the Tri-Apsed Triclinium

The public and private rooms of the villa

The apotheosis of Hercules

A day of hunting at the villa

Outdoor breakfast

The senses tell the Basilica

The prestige of the dominus is revealed through the wall frescoes

The possible celebration of a solemn event

The paths of virus, a reflection of the Dominus

A royal room housed the Dominus during his audiences

The mansio of Philosophiana. A stopping place

The capture of wild animals for the roman amphitheatre games

The senses tell the private entrance to the spa

A small room represents one of the activities of the thermal bath route

The catalogue of animals