Houses and villas

To imagine Eugenia’s villa near the Sacred Spring, we used descriptions from Roman writers such as Varro and Pliny who wrote about luxurious holiday villas, with aviaries, marble chairs with small fountains next to them, and outdoor dining rooms.

A reconstruction of a grand Roman villa in the countryside. Photo via TimeTravelRome

Eugenia’s villa Fontanicum is based on the excavated remains of a real Roman country villa at Roquemaure, near the Rhône.  You can see the new semi-circular dining room apse that Carotus paints in Chapter 31 at the top the building plan, here.

This villa did have its own dock for boats. 

Icciana’s farm in Chapter 42 was inspired by the farm which the Roman writer Pliny says he gave to his freed former nursemaid.

For formal meals, Romans reclined on couches to eat, using their right hand to take food and leaning on their left arm. In the 4th century, reclining on a semicircular couch was the fashion, so sometimes a semicircular apse was built into a wall for the couch.

A Roman feast, with guests reclining on a semicircular couch
Photo Spiridon Ion Cepleanu via Wikimedia Commons

Eugenia’s town house is based on the remains of a grand Roman house at a place not far from Arles called Vienne. Archaeologists have found two houses joined together, a floor mosaic with fish and fierce looking faces, a pond and a pool with fountains just as you’ll read about in Chapter 44.

The mosaic floor and pond from the house at Vienne. Photo Frachet via Wikimedia Commons

Click here for images of the house in Vienne that we used as the model for Eugenia’s townhouse.

Click here to see more of the mosaics.

Click here to see images of the kind of mosaics and wall paintings with fake marble Petronia has in her room at Villa Fontanicum in Chapter 29 and bronze jugs like Tessilla bangs for Lemuria in Chapter 40.

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