This Sunday we visited an unusual place called Villa dei Quintili, for which we thank the Friends in Rome community who organized the tour. The villa is located on the outskirts of the city and is not one of the most popular attractions in Rome, but history buffs will definitely like it.
It looks like a not-so-remarkable place is fraught with many mysteries, because the history of this place began in the second century of our era. During the reign of Emperor Commodus, the two consuls, the brothers Kondin and Valery Maxim of Quintilia, built, as it would now be called, an entertainment complex. It included a villa with baths, a hippodrome, a park and a theater, all on a hill from where you could admire Ancient Rome.
The villa was built near the Appian Way - the most significant ancient road in Rome. Paved in 312 BC e., she became the most important message from Rome to Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor. At that time, the law prohibited burial within the city, so countless tombs and catacombs stretch along the Appian Way. Also, far from the noise of the city, the Quintillian brothers built their own villa, which was considered one of the most comfortable and luxurious.
However, the brothers did not enjoy it for long, because were soon executed for attempting to attack the emperor. In general, Commodus was very afraid for his life and was repeatedly exposed to danger, but this time he had a motive to get rid of his brothers, because after their execution, the villa passed into imperial possession. Ironically, the emperor was still killed by his mistress in this very villa.
The day turned out to be warm and sunny, and this is at the end of November!
We were waiting for a two-hour walk through the ruins of a once chic villa. We climbed a hill and went to the main gate. Once in the second century they were a work of art. All in marble, they proudly greeted the guests of the villa to the sound of water flowing from the walls.
At first, all the water went through the process of purification in such reservoirs, so that later they could get into the baths and pools through the aqueduct system. Just imagine how engineering was already working at that time!
Behind the reservoirs in the southern part of the villa was a hippodrome, which is still hidden from the eyes of visitors. His excavations will begin shortly. Archaeologists suggest that it will be something similar to the Great Circus (Circo Massimo), located in the very center of Rome.
It offers stunningly beautiful views of the mountains.
The entire contents of the villa’s toilets flocked to this small river.
So, we begin our acquaintance with the internal arrangement of the villa, the main part of which was occupied by the terma, or SPA, as it is called now. In a room called Calidario, a sufficiently high temperature was always maintained due to a special heating system. Along the walls there were hollow pipes that carried hot steam.
All significant places in the villa have QR codes. Happy iPhone owners can learn informative information for free.
I was pleasantly surprised by the description in Russian. It would seem that not the most popular attraction among tourists visiting Rome, and the Italian Ministry of Culture took care of us by translating into Russian and twenty more languages.
In the center of the bath complex was a large pool. The water in it was warm water was supplied using three pipelines. The walls and floor were lined with white marble, and through the large windows one could admire the nature surrounding the villa.
The whole complex was divided into common areas and private rooms, which were connected to the baths by small corridors decorated with mosaics, which are very well preserved to this day.
By the way, the toilets were not among the public places and were intended only for important guests.
Next to the baths was an arena where Emperor Commodus arranged gladiatorial battles. Of course, they were not as spectacular as in the Coliseum, because the gladiators fought against weak, almost unarmed slaves, or against non-dangerous animals.
Of course, now it all looks like awkward ruins, but just imagine it all in integrity and safety, in white and colored marble with stained-glass windows and stucco moldings, with mosaics and tiles on the floor.
Excavations and restoration continue to this day.
In the last five minutes before the close, we managed to walk through a small museum, where fragments of statues and monuments are presented. The largest and most valuable part of everything that was found in the villa has now been transferred to the Vatican Museum, but there is something interesting here.
For example, this sign is an ancient Christian symbol. I saw exactly the same in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. During the persecution of faith, he served as a secret sign that signaled to other Christians that believers lived in the house. The discovery of this sign led archaeologists to yet another theory of why the Quintillian brothers were executed.
And this is a sample of pipes from the end of the second century, with the help of which a water supply system was created. The names of the Quintilian brothers were written on earlier samples of such pipes, which gave archaeologists reason to believe that the villa originally belonged to them.
On this our tour came to an end. Thank you Friends in Rome for an educational walk!
All photos from this walk were taken by my husband and part-time photographer in Rome Arthur Yakutsevich.
Practical information: address, how to get, tickets, prices
- Address: villa dei Quintili, Via Appia Nuova, 1092 (Rome)
- The journey from the center of Rome to Villa de Quintili will take you about an hour.
- Take the metro to Colli Albani Station, branch A, take bus number 664 in the direction of COSOLETO and get off at the APPIA / SQUILLACE stop. In Rome, buses stop only on demand. Since even the locals are sometimes difficult to get their bearings, the proverb “the language will bring to Kiev” works here. So do not hesitate to ask, but rather when landing, tell the driver where you should stop
- Ticket price: 6 euros for adults, 3 euros for students. With a ticket, you can visit the Terme di Caracalla Terme and the Cecilia Metella Tomb (Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella) during the week.
- Additional Information: archeoroma.beniculturali.it/siti-archeologici/villa-dei-quintili