The Roman Villa of Minori

It was a favorite place for the imperial Roman aristocracy to build their summer residences

By Amalfi Coasting

The Roman villa of Minori, whose original owner remains unknown, is a structure that dates back to the 1st century A.D..

It was built in the valley of Minori, along the river Regina Minor, and covered an area of about 8,000 square feet.

This stretch of coastline, full of coves and natural harbors, was a favorite place for the imperial Roman aristocracy to build their summer residences, as evidenced by the findings in Vietri sul Mare, Amalfi, Positano, and the islands of Li Galli.

The first information on a building dating from Roman times in Minori dates from 1873–74, when the discovery of "Roman Baths" was first mentioned.

In 1932 a collapse occurred during the renovation of some local homes and led to the discovery of an underground chamber, belonging to the Roman villa.

The actual excavations began in 1934, but some areas came to light only after 1954, when a flood disrupted the Amalfi Coast.

In 1956, while working on the construction of the Hotel St. Lucia, new areas were discovered, including paintings which are preserved in the annex to the villa.

The residential structure is visible only on the side closest to the sea, as many parts of the building were reused as wineries from new housing lots on the site of the villa.

The villa was constructed around a "viridarium" or Roman gardens with a central swimming pool surrounded by a group of dwelling rooms and triportico divided into two symmetric groups by a large central room.

The lower floor has a garden surrounded on three sides by a portico.

The viridarium leads to various rooms of the villa. You first enter two rooms covered with a barrel vault that faced the peristyle and a third one with the entrance down the hall.

Behind these rooms, there are two more rooms divided by partitions. They apparently were the first to be rediscovered. The walls of these rooms are painted according to the scheme of the Pompeian III style (such as House of Loreio Tiburtino). The walls are divided into large panels, some of them with mythological subjects.

The apodyterium (dressing, or waiting room) has mosaic floor dating to a 3rd century A.D. renovation. It is the only room in the villa which preserves the marble threshold for the doors.

Next door is the tepidarium (warm room), where you can see the pillars of brick and terracotta tiles set with space between them in order to let the hot air circulate, and the caldarium (hot room). The frigidarium (or cold room) is missing.

The north and east walls of the tepidarium preserve a mosaic floor. In the north wall, a large vase with high handles (kantharos) is painted at the center of the apse. The similarities with the mosaics of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and the Thermal Baths of Ostia let us assume that the mosaics were put in place in the imperial age.

The Antiquarium, built in the 60s, includes the remains of a large fish tank, which was part of the summer dining room, and a lounge with terracotta floor pillars, perhaps part of the adjoining thermal baths.

The collection includes common use pottery, such as pitchers, jugs, lids, plates, and tableware, oil lamps, a group of glass vases, and decorated bowls. The most unusual piece is bowl with a tall base from the first half of the 6th century d. C..

There is also a variety of commercial amphorae, especially two that were very common in Pompeii and Herculaneum (one for wine and the other for preserved fruit). A third type, with a wide mouth wide, was used for fish sauces.

The collection also includes hooks, tools for making fishing nets, and mills for grain.

The Villa is open every working day from 9 A.M. till an hour before sunset. The entrance is free.

The Amalfi Coast’s most well-known towns are Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, three jewels, each with its own unique character and beauty and all world renowned. But at the heart of the Costiera is a fourth jewel, Praiano, a less hectic and more authentic town, where many discerning tourists have begun to stay, using it as a base for their Amalfi Coasting. Try Praiano, trust us!

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