Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 November 2020


  • David J. Mattingly


Villa was the Latin word for a rural dwelling associated with an estate, and ranging in character from functional farms to the luxurious country seats of the élite (Varro, Rust. 1. 11. 1–12. 4; 3. 2. 1–2. 18). Most of the literary evidence relates to Italy and primarily described farms run for the benefit of urban-based proprietors (Vitr.De arch. 6. 6. 1), though the most opulent seaside villas of the Roman aristocracy were sometimes built solely for pleasure. Aristocratic enjoyment of rural retreats and pride in creating architectural splendours there are well attested (Pliny, Ep. 2. 17). However, the classic Italian villa, comprising a luxurious dwelling for the use of the owner on visits to the estate (pars urbana), the working *farm buildings (pars rustica), and the storage buildings and barns (pars fructuaria), is perfectly illustrated by the excavations at *Settefinestre, with its aristocratic domus (mansion), baths, slave quarters, wine and olive presses, piggery, substantial granary, and formal gardens (Carandini and others, 1985; cf.

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription