The mosaics of an ancient Roman villa overlook the sea of ​​the Scala dei Turchi

The mosaics of an ancient Roman villa overlook the sea of ​​the Scala dei Turchi

2023-05-30 19:15:42 – It is located at the mouth of the Cottone river, in the bay between Punta Piccola and Punta Grande, and, looking up from the splendid mosaics, the gaze is filled with the color of the sea: it is the “maritime villa” of the imperial age which in Realmonte, in Agrigento, acts as a counterpoint for beauty to the Scala dei Turchi, a few hundred meters away. Dating back to the first century after Christ, with the baths perfectly visible, its remains can be used again after the recovery works financed by the Valle dei Templi archaeological park, while in the near future a single visit itinerary will include both the mosaics and the baths of the domus in contrada Durrueli and the Scala dei Turchi, inaccessible to the public due to the risk of collapse and erosion since February 2020.

© Andrea Vanadia

The villa stands in the center of the Punta Grande bay, at the mouth of the Cottone stream, a few kilometers west of the commercial port of Agrigentum. Overlooking the sea, it is organized into two main sectors: a residential one, with a peristyle-garden, cubicula (bedrooms), tablinum (living room), triclinium (dining room), warehouses; and a thermal one, which includes two large dressing rooms (apodyteria), one of which with walls covered in marble and a mosaic floor in pink and black tiles with the representation of Scylla, a female sea monster holding a rudder, the calidarium, a small heated room , and the frigidarium, with walls covered in marble and a mosaic floor, which led to a large circular basin with walls covered in marble.

archeology Roman villa Scala dei Turchi

© Andrea Vanadia

The construction of the villa can be dated to the first half of the 2nd century AD. According to one hypothesis, based on the discovery of some tiles with factory stamps, the villa would have belonged to a member of the important Annii family, whose involvement in the exploitation of the sulfur mines in the Agrigento area is known. The villa, we read on the website of the Municipality of Realmonte, was identified in 1907 during the works for the construction of the Porto Empedocle-Siculiana-Castelvetrano railway, but it was not valued properly until the 1970s. In 1979 the Superintendence of Antiquities of Agrigento entrusted a team of Japanese archaeologists, led by Masanara Aoyagi, with the task of resuming work in that area. The Japanese mission, within a few years, brought to light the entire structure and the mortal remains of a woman. Some mosaics represent “Posidon” on a hippocampus, while further north there is depicted the mythical Triton with a half fish-like body which is carried up by a chariot pulled by two huge sea monsters. (

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