Italy: Rome opens remains of Roman villa hidden for 2,000 years on the Aventine Hill

Rome: Roman villa found under luxury apartment complex opens to visitors with tours of the ‘Archaeological Box on the Aventine Hill.’

The remains of a magnificent Roman villa, or domus, buried for almost 2,000 years at the foot of Rome’s Aventine Hill, will open to visitors for the first time from 7 May.

The visits – on the first and third Friday of the month – are enhanced by video projections, lights, sounds and historical narration by the celebrated duo of scientific presenters Piero Angela and Paco Lanciano, bringing the ancient villa to life once more.

The spectacular discovery was made in 2014 during works to earthquake-proof the foundations of the 1950s-era building in Piazza Albania, not far from the Circus Maximus.

Described as “unique,” the ‘Scatola Archeologica’ project encompasses archaeology, architecture and technology, creating Rome’s first museum site within a residential complex.

Archaeologists found a series of large rooms decorated with sumptuous mosaics and traces of frescoes as well as objects from everyday Roman life such as fragments of bowls and amphorae, a hammer, kitchen ladles, sewing needles and oil lamps, as well as the remains of a stone tower dating from the sixth century BC.

After several years of excavations below ground, and construction work above to convert the development into 180 luxury apartments, the residential complex now boasts its own underground museum.

The €3 million dig, overseen by the special superintendency of Rome, was funded by the property’s owners, BNP Paribas Real Estate, in what has been hailed as a virtuous example of public and private collaboration.

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Daniela Porro, the capital’s chief archaeologist, described the new museum as an “archaeological box” of treasure and, based on the richness of decoration, it is believed that the domus belonged to a “person of power.”

Guided tours of the underground museum at the Domus Aventino will last about one hour and will be conducted – in Italian – on the first and third Friday every month.