Nero's first villa opens to the public

Emperor replaced it with Domus Aurea

12 April, 15:04

    (ANSAmed) - Rome, April 12 - The first large villa built by Emperor Nero on the Palatine Hill in Rome is opening to the public.

    The 'Domus Transitoria' (Transitory House) was opulent and refined.

    It was built with the grandeur of Ptolemaic palaces as inspiration.

    The villa was closed down and buried at the emperor's order after the great fire of Rome in 64 AD and replaced with the larger and more sumptuous Domus Aurea (Golden House).

    However, the first villa sums up and is "almost a technical trial run for what would become the Domus Aurea", said the director of the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, Alfonsina Russo.

    After a 10-year-long restoration, the villa's 800 square meters will open to the public as part of a new guided tour on Nero from Monday to Friday.

    The tour is reserved to small groups of visitors who will be able to admire the colored marbles, fountains and red porphyry columns thanks to the new lighting and 3D visors.

    The tour starts in a large room with a nymphaeum.

    Water is a central theme of the villa, one of the reasons why it has been confused for a long time with the thermal baths of Livia, archaeologists say.

    Columns and niches decorate this opulent space.

    Historians and archaeologists say Nero loved to spend the hottest hours of summer days in this room, under a large patio, which was probably covered with a wooden decorated ceiling or perhaps only protected by opulent curtains.

    Bright and precious marbles decorate this space, which represented for the emperor a symbol of his extensive power worldwide, historians say. The villa's majestic rooms are also decorated with marble and references to water, which is a central theme of the villa's decor, said director Russo.

    Walls are painted with flowers and plants to look like a luxuriant garden.

    Part of the original décor of the villa was obtained some three centuries ago from the Farnese family.

    However, many original decorations were lost or are now part of private collections or exhibited at museums.

    Parts of the decorated ceiling are on display at the Museo Palatino, right next to the entrance of the Domus, along with golden friezes and other treasures.

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