The splendid Roman Villa of Realmonte reopens, guided tours with archaeologists

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It must have been a beautiful, rich, carefully decorated building overlooking the sea: a real “maritime villa” of the imperial age, built a few kilometers west of the trading post of the ancient Agrigentum, in the bay between Punta Piccola and Punta Grande , at the mouth of the Cottone river.
From next Friday (1 July) it will finally reopen for visits after the restoration – which lasted a few months and financed by the Valle dei Templi Archaeological Park – which today allows you to admire its extraordinary mosaics and baths.

From the morning it will be possible to visit the Roman Villa through educational paths led by the archaeologists of CoopCulture, manager of additional services.
Each visit of about an hour will allow you to discover a unique archaeological context, including colonnaded courtyards, mosaic floors and thermal structures built in front of the sea.

“The Roman Villa of Realmonte reopens – underlines the Regional Councilor for Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Alberto Samonà – with a redevelopment that restores its beauty and splendor, expanding the cultural offer of the Archaeological Park of the Valley of Temples.
Another example of attention that goes in the direction of enhancing the cultural heritage of the province of Agrigento which in recent years has seen numerous interventions: from the works to highlight the portentous Hellenistic Theater in the archaeological area of ​​the Valley of the Temples, to the redevelopment of the Casa di Luigi Pirandello, to the new tour routes accessible to all and free of architectural barriers.
Also in Realmonte, the Spring of Archeology is bearing fruit ”.

“Let’s give another piece back to the community – says the director of the Valley of the Temples, Roberto Sciarratta -.
We have managed to restore it and make it usable again with the funds available: it will become an attractive pole for the entire area, a valid and light addition to the impressive visit to the Valley of the Temples.
For the summer, many events are scheduled that will allow you to discover the Roman Villa in all its extraordinary uniqueness “.

We are a few hundred meters from the Scala dei Turchi: the villa – very rich, from a monogram found was attributed to Publius Annius, an entrepreneur of sulfur, an important exponent of a gens present in Agrigento in the first centuries of the empire – was discovered by chance in the December 1907, during the construction works of the railway line that connected Porto Empedocle to Siculiana.
Antonio Salinas arrived immediately and the archaeological excavations started in 1908 brought to light the floors in opus tessellatum with geometric decoration and in opus sectile.
The first important decision was to move the railway line further north, thus saving the uncovered areas, but the excavations stopped anyway and only resumed between 1979 and 1983, with a series of campaigns by the University of Tsukuba ( Japan) under the direction of Masanori Aoyagi.
The investigations, continued and financed with European funds in 2004 and 2008, revealed that the rooms identified at the beginning of the century were arranged around an uncovered quadrangular courtyard that surrounded the internal garden, overlooked by a peristyle of five sandstone columns on each side.
The remains of plaster still visible confirm that the columns were painted in red in the lower part, and surmounted by a wall painted in black.
In the tablinum, the representation room of the dominus, there are still the remains of imposing mosaics, as well as in the bedrooms with the cubiculum, and especially in the triclinium (the dining room).
The villa must have been immense, other rooms slope towards the sea, protected by a terrace.
But the great peculiarity of the Roman Villa lies in its spa, wonderfully decorated: a plant divided into two nuclei (for men and for women) with a large cistern in the center that guaranteed the necessary water supply to both bathrooms.
The mosaics – two different complexes around the figures of Neptune and Scylla – were made in different periods and with different workers.

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