The Bikini Girls Of Sicily

Villa Romana
Del Casale

I dream
about Sicily.

If you have
been following this blog then you already know that I am obsessed with this
spectacular island.

If I could
spend every day for the rest of my life exploring Sicily I still wouldn’t get
to see it all.

People are
always asking me about things to do in Sicily, so I decided to do some posts
about random fascinating things to see and do when you are there.

 One completely intriguing spot to visit away
from all the tourists is the incredible Villa Romana del Casale.

Piazza Armerina, Sicily

about 5km from a picturesque little town in central Sicily called Piazza Armerina, the villa is not only one
of the very best preserved villas from anywhere in the Roman Empire, it also
has much of it’s decoration still intact, most famously the extensive mosaics.

aerial view of Villa Romana del Casale

The villa which
is assumed to have been a hunting lodge, was built in the early 4th Century
AD, at one time it was thought for the emperor Maximian, but now it is thought
to have been built for a senatorial aristocrat. 
(At that time marble was the flooring of choice for Roman emperors, and
Villa Romana del Casale only has marble for the floor of the basilica, which
suggests that the owner did not belong to imperial Roman society

It’s hard to
believe that the mosaics we value so highly now were at the time considered
second rate!


But back to
the mosaics. This is the single greatest collection of Roman era mosaics
anywhere in the world, and they are essentially completely intact. Covering 38 000 square feet, vibrant and
brilliant they depict mythological scenes, scenes of daily life, and the famous
“bikini girls”.

The famous Bikini Girls

The Bikini Girls are a group of 10 young women dressed in shorts and a bandeau, performing
various acts of athleticism such as discus throwing, long jump with weights in
their hands, running and playing some form of handball. 
And you thought the bikini was invented in the 20th century? Not quite – it was alive and well in the early 300’s AD, and probably long before that.


There is a girl wearing
a transparent golden dress holding a crown over the head of an athlete,
presenting her with a victory palm. Creating a dress and making it look
transparent by using little stones and pieces of colored glass is nothing short
of miraculous.

The Corridor Of The Hunt is a walkway that runs the width of the villa, and is a mosaic explosion of hunting scenes, featuring animals, fruit and flowers, fish and cupids, everyday scenes and mythology.
It takes your breath away.


The floora were
probably created by North African craftsmen who were known for their incredible
skill with mosaics. The mosaics themselves are still incredibly vivid, especially when you consider the villa was inhabited or in use for 8 centuries (from the 4th century until the 12th century), by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs and the Normans.

A mosaic scene from the master bedroom

A landslide
in the 12th Century almost completely covered the villa, and it was
only partly discovered in the 19th Century, but it wasn’t until the
20th Century that excavations revealed the magnitude of what lay
beneath and the absolute magnificence of the villa.


Villa Romana
del Casale is approximately an hour and a half drive from Catania, 2 hours
drive from Siracusa, and 45 minutes drive from Enna.

Check out these amazing videos of Villa Romana del Casale.
Remember all 42 of these floors are made of mosaics, hand-laid by artisans somewhere between 310 and 340 AD, with no machines or modern technology to help them to perfection.

Sicily takes my breath away.

Disclaimer: these images are not my own


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *