Fortunately, some remains of the ancient world still stand proudly, like the 1st-century A.D. Roman theater of Spoleto…..
..and the 1st-century B.C. Temple to Minerva in Assisi ….……but others are hidden below ground for earthquakes, invasions, weather travesties such as flooding and re-utilization of ancient sites have resulted in the disappearance of ancient above-ground structures.
With a bit of investigation, you can find many ancient wonder if you seek them out – like Spoleto’s casa romana of the imperial period, i.e., the 1st-century A.D.
As of 241 B.C., there is a settlement in Roman settlement in the ancient town of Spoletium. The town on the hill was terraced with a wide and spacious forum, the site of today’s Piazza del Mercato (Market Square) :
Just off that piazza is the Arco di Druso, 1st-c.A.D., monumental entrance to Spoletium for those arriving in the town from the Via Flaminia (220 B.C.):
Not far away are also ruins of a Roman temple of the same period, a medieval home built on top:
And just steps away is another Roman wonder of Spoleto, the richly-decorated Roman house, located partially underneath the frescoed building of the Spoleto’s palazzo comunale (town hall) complex:
Spoleto archaeologist and art historian Giuseppe Sordini worked on excavation of the Roman house between 1885 and 1914:
…and you can see him here in 1920 in the Roman house….
….and do note the mosaic floor at Sordini’s feet which you can also see in this recent photo:
Ownership of the house was attributed almost immediately to Vespasiana Polla, mother of the emperor Vespasian (who reigned 69-79 A.D.) from Norcia (the Roman Nursia), for the commanding position of the edifice in proximity to significant Roman monuments and its view over all of Spoletium indicated ownership by someone of an elevated social position and abundant financial resources.
The building as we see it now is roughly square in plan though certainly this was a much larger edifice, rectangular in shape and construction was probably started in the 1st-century B.C.
Upon entry, we’re in the atrio (entrance hall) with a basin for collecting rainwater, the impluvium, and a cistern for the rainwater which would supply water throughout the house:
This room was the fulcrum of the house with other rooms placed around the atrium in a symmetrical plan, each one with a mosaic floor. The casa romana was probably used until the Middle Ages and then perhaps burnt down.
One can see the tablinum from the atrium, just behind the cistern, the area where the master of the house received guests and handled business matters. The triclinium (dining area) was just to the left of it, slightly upraised:
On both sides of the atrium and perpendicular to the entrance were the cubicula, the bedrooms:
The rooms would have been adorned with painted plaster walls – and a piece in a display case gives us an idea of the probable elegance of those walls:
An adjacent case displays terracotta architectural decorations:
Bits of glass objects, ivory hair pins, clay spindle – even a pair of dice – are in other display cases:
Since 1991, restoration work has continued, financed by various associations as well as by the Italian government.
And who knows what other treasures might be unearthed?
Read about – and see! – the splendor of Spoleto’s historic library
Read here about the myth of Phaeton
Click here to read about – and see!- Spoleto’s 14th-c. Papal fortress
Read about the splendid Cathedral of Spoleto
Read about one of Umbria’s most splendid medieval churches – in Spoleto