Roman villa of Varignano

Roman Site in La Spezia

Villa Romana Del Varignano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Donatella Chiapponi

The Roman Villa of Varignano enjoys a truly idyllic setting, nestled at the base of a picturesque valley adorned with water sources. It graciously overlooks the sea, enveloped by an estate adorned with olive groves, and quite possibly enriched with woodlands and pasturelands.

Archaeological endeavours have unveiled an expansive villa with a private harbor, its story stretching across time from the late 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD. Throughout this era, the villa experienced various cycles of demolition, reconstruction, and restoration, expanding its footprint and incorporating structures dedicated to oil production.

Of particular note is the remarkably preserved oil production area, which includes oil presses dating back to the Sillan period. These provide a vivid depiction of the comprehensive oil production process as described in ancient texts, encompassing the management of olive groves to the storage of the precious oil.

During the 1st century AD, the villa was further adorned with amenities designed for the master’s comfort, such as a spa and a capacious cistern for water collection. As a testament to its stature, the villa boasts exquisite polychrome mosaics, revealing its role as a residence of high quality.

Spanning approximately 30,000 square meters, the villa was an integral component of an impressive agricultural expanse, featuring olive groves and possibly even woodland and grazing areas.

Archaeological endeavours have unearthed a sprawling complex with its private maritime landing, seamlessly blending the characteristics of both a rustic villa and a maritime otium villa. Its lifespan extended from the late 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD.

The current layout can be traced back to 90-80 BC. However, evidence points to a preceding structure from the end of the 2nd century BC, with seven rooms adorned with wall decorations and exquisite flooring. This attests to an earlier chapter in its history, adding depth to the villa’s captivating narrative.

The Roman villa of Varignano appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting La Spezia!

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Visiting Roman villa of Varignano

Address: Varignano Roman Villa, Via Varignano Vecchio, Le Grazie, Portovenere, SP, Italy
Duration: 30 minutes

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