VILLA ROMANA DEL CASALE - PIAZZA ARMERINA

VILLA ROMANA DEL CASALE, near Piazza Armerina lie the remains of the Casale Roman Villa, one of the most luxurious country houses dating to late Roman age still in existence. 

The complex is articulated in various buildings erected at different levels along the natural slope. The access avenue runs alongside the thermal baths before reaching the entrance to the villa, famous for the splendid mosaic floors in practically every room. Mosaics of animals in laurel wreath circles decorate the great rectangular peristyle with its wide central fountain. In te bath gymnasium, a chariot race scene is richly vivacious and alive with movement. One room is decorated with dancing scenes, another with pictures of the four seasons. One of the most interesting mosaics as Casale is the Little Hunt with five rows of scenes. 

The most finely executed mosaic work is in the deambulatory (covered walk) on the northern side of the peristyle. This is also the site of the mosaic decoration known as the Great Hunt, with the personification of two imperial provinces (perhaps Egypt and Armenia). In the centre armed men hunt animals for consignment to the amphitheatres and try to catch them alive. This is a very naturalistic scene; in the panorama of Roman mosaic art, the realism and complexity of these scenes is almost unequalled. Dating here is difficult: the Little Hunt might belong to a date no later than the mid-4th century B.C., while the Great Hunt and the Massacre are late 4th and 5th century.