The Villa Romana Del Casale, Piazza Armerina

This post is about a UNESCO world heritage site in Sicily! Classy or what?

There are altogether 44 UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy. The criteria are that World Heritage Sites can be “natural” or “cultural” places of general wonderfulness. That’s my handy summary of a long and tedious paragraph.

Interestingly enough, the UK only has 28 of them, and the USA has an embarrassingly modest 21. I bet they wish they’d been invaded by the Romans! Meanwhile Germany has a hefty score of 37. Now I’m beginning to smell a rat. How can they possibly have that many? I’ve been to Germany, all over the place. They have lovely sausages and it’s very clean but, come off it! World heritage sites? I like Germans a lot but, let’s face it, Germany’s boring. I mean, really boring.

I’ve just checked and found that Greece has a mere 17 sites of outstandingly superlative phenomenalness (or whatever it was). Now I know that this whole system is fiddled and meaningless.

And let’s come back to the USA. Much as it pains me to pass up any opportunity to take the piss out of Yanks – it’s one of my more constructive hobbies – I have to admit that the American countryside is breathtaking, staggering, full of uniqueness and generally, everywhere you go, utterly marvelous. If they’ve only registered 21 sites so far, it’s bound to be because they’re too busy hiking around all the rest and enjoying the views.

Canada also has just 16. I’ve never been to Canada but I’d love to go, and I bet they have far more stunning places than 16. My evidence lies in a wonderful blog I found recently, containing truly uplifting photographs by a Canadian professional photographer:

Whoah, stop! Before you rush off there, look at my slide show of the Villa Romana Del Casale, in Piazza Armerina. This is one of the jewels of Sicily.

The villa was built in the 4th century AD and was used continuously until it was buried by a landslide in the 12th century. The villa was huge and would have been built and decorated at staggering expense. It was the manor house of a colossal agricultural estate, owned and run by an Italian aristocrat. Sicily was regarded as a terribly primitive province by the Romans (it still is) but farms here were prized, as the land was so fertile.

If you’re not too impressed by the photo quality, my defense is that my digital camera is 12 years old and does have far fewer pixels than my 5-year-old cell phone.

Anyway, what do you think of the place?

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Huh. Sweden has 15 sites on that list. Who knew? And I’ve only seen 5 of them, so apparently I have som sightseeing to do in my own country. 🙂

    And the Sicilian villa is BEAUTIFUL!


  2. Had to check out the list of Italian sites and was surprised to see that I have only visited 13 of them. What did I do during my two-year stay there? Boggles the mind.


  3. Well, now I’ve had to go and check for myself! There were lots which I’d never even heard of!!!

    I’ve seen 17 – if I’m allowed to include “the historic centre of Naples” on the basis of whizzing through it in a coach, on a school trip, accompanied by 6 teachers who were terrifed we were going to be ambushed and held hostage by the unruly Neapolitans.
    Oh alright, I’ve been to 16.


  4. dorsetdaze says:

    Nice article. I visited Piazza Armerina back in 2001 and still regard it as one of Italy’s great attractions. Mosaics with humour and a light touch at times – wonderful. I refer to it in my article ‘Sicily, Italy’s exotic southern outpost’ on my blog. I am determined to revisit Sicily one day as there is still so much of the island that I haven’t seen – even Palermo! Keep up the good work!


    1. Hello,
      I looked at your article and loved it – I have to admit, that was what motivated me to dig out my own photos and share them.
      Do try to get back to Sicily soon, there really is so much to see.


  5. lovely mosaics 🙂 and post! thanks for sharing


  6. Thank you very much for your encouraging comments.


  7. I love your whole blog. I visited Sicily back in 2006 with my parents and husband. My dad is Sicilian/Calabrian – Grandma came from Corleone, Grandpa from around Sellia Marina. My Mom is of Irish-English extraction, but most of her ancestors were kicking around the New York City area since the 18th century, so just call them American. She also hates fish. Mealtimes in Sicily were very hard on her. We didn’t get to Piazza Armerina, but did visit Selinunte, which was amazing. Also Agrigento, but I actually preferred Selinunte.


    1. I’m glad you like the blog. 🙂
      I agree about Selinute, it’s wonderful, but I do love Agrigento too. You just have to be careful not to get cooked, don’t you, as there’s no shade anywhere!


      1. If we hadn’t visited Agrigento during a particularly mild fall, that might have been a problem!

        Selinunte was where we also had an incredible lunch. My father also enjoyed fussing over the little mutt that came capering around us for a handout. He told it to sit down in English, and it just looked at him. Then he told it, “Sederla!” And it sat down. Selinunte, where the dogs only understand dialect!


  8. Ha ha! I wonder if the dogs round where I live speak Sicilian? They certainly don’t understand me when I tell them to stop slobbering on my legs in Italian!


  9. drinkiq says:

    Just think how much of this art was forever destroyed by the looting of the Barbarian invasion, just think of what Sicilian society would be like today.


    1. True, and a sad thought. But which Barbarians did you have in mind, though? There have been so many invasions in Sicily, once has to be specific!!! 🙂


      1. drinkiq says:

        I was inferring to the whole of the Roman Empire under the destructive weight of Germanic migrations and uprisings within the Empire itself. Add to that the Hunnish invasion from the Asian steppe with all its pointless destruction of property all led to the collapse of Roman civilization. With this collapse came the defenceless situation Europe found itself in, which allowed the Moslem invasions to kick off and destroy a good part of Roman North Africa and Spain after the Romans had evacuated.

        Thankfully Sicily was spared the tactic of carpet bombing the USAF inflicted on other parts of Italy. The real enemy of Sicily today has been the Goverment of Rome and their Lega Nord point of view.


  10. Our Adventure in Croatia says:

    yes the Villa is an amazing place. I have a special connection with Piazza Armerina, but that’s for another post….. you’ve brought back sweet memories of times I can never repeat.


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