The Italian Almanac

Roman villa

Italian News - May 3

A huge Roman villa has been unveiled just outside Florence - the first ever in the popular tourist area and one of the biggest Roman farms ever discovered. "Villas like these were fully fledged factories for the production of wine, olive oil, meat, corn and other products," said archaeologist Fausto Berti, who led the dig at Montelupo Fiorentino.

"We've found big animal pens, warehouses and even a workshop for making ceramic vases. The owners were self-sufficient". Berti reckons the villa and farm - which covers 2,000 square metres - must have had its own teams of craftsmen and a small army of slaves.

The 500-metre-square villa is well-preserved and shows the high architectural standards patricians liked for their country homes, reminding them of their luxury town houses: large and elegant rooms, spacious gardens and a long (52m) portico. It also has fully equipped baths with all the areas Romans used to produce various levels of heat, warm water and steam - and then turn down the temperature.

The Montelupo villa is open at weekends. Reservations only.