Villa romana del Varignano
The Roman villa is located in a very pleasant landscape and environmental setting, in the hollow of a protected cove in the location named Grazie of Portovenere (La Spezia). In the archaeological area is located the oldest oil mill of Liguria.
The Roman villa is located in a very pleasant landscape and environmental setting, in the hollow of a protected cove in the location named Grazie of Portovenere (Sp). It played a role in the landing and rope system built by the Romans in the wide gulf of La Spezia, linked to the basin near the port of Luna.
The villa is located inside of a large agricultural land of about 30,000 square meters composed of olive groves, pastures and wooded areas. In the archaeological area is located the oldest oil mill of Liguria.
Archaeological excavations have uncovered a large complex with a private access to the sea, where the typical features of the villa rustica and the maritime leisure residence can be found. It was operational for a long time, from the 2nd century BC to the beginning of the 5th century.
The last constructions in the villa date back to the 90/80s BC, but an earlier structure including 7 rooms with decorated walls and prestigious floors dating from the late 2nd century BC, has been identified and testifies to an earlier life in the villa. The urban park consists of two adjacent rectangular bodies that do not communicate directly with each other: the side restricted to the vilicus and its family consists of many rooms and the domus structured by atria compluviati, tablinum and alae, with high quality mosaic floors, opens onto a porch overlooking the sea.
The pars fructuaria, the district used for the production activities, consists of buildings dedicated to olive processing and oil storage. Organized according to the precepts of culture that Cato mentions in De Agri cultura, it consists of a factory with presses and a large oil cellar that had to contain at least 50 pots. Very well preserved, there is also the pressing room with two old oil presses operated by levers and ropes and which are very faithful to the model described by Cato.
During the second half of the 1st century, major renovations transformed the residential area. The vilicus’ house has been replaced by a luxurious room with thermal baths disposed around a large basin with a fountain.
During the same period of time was constructed the large vaulted two-nave reservoir, with its imposing water tank coated with hydraulic mortar, as it had become necessary to have a greater quantity of water for the use of the spa.
At one point, the villa’s sector of activity came to change: the oil cell was dismantled and transformed into a hydrant, a sign that oil production during this period was no longer the predominant activity, and that different agricultural activities and livestock farming practices had probably been developed there.
People lived in this villa until the beginning of the 5th century until the rise of the sea level and groundwater levels made the site unhealthy and dangerous and made them abandon the villa.
Around the year 1000, the Olivetan monks began to cultivate these lands and used the ruins of the villa as terraces: an olive grove was once again planted, as well as vineyards and vegetable gardens.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, three farms were built and the large cistern which stills being in use, was used as a storage area for tools and animals.
Via Varignano Vecchio
dal 2 giugno 2020 da mercoledì a domenica 9.00-16.00 (chiuso ultima domenica del mese) Necessaria la prenotazione online https://bit.ly/2ZUYjdY (o telefonica 0187 790307)