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date: 20 October 2020


The Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World
John RobertsJohn Roberts

was the Latin word for a rural dwelling associated with an estate, and ranging in character from functional farm to luxurious country seats. Most of the literary evidence relates to Italy and primarily describes farms run for the benefit of urban‐based proprietors, 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. However, the classic Italian villa, comprising a luxurious dwelling for the use of the owner on visits to the estate, the working farm buildings, and the storage buildings and barns, is perfectly illustrated by the excavations at Tuscan Settefinestre, with its aristocratic mansion, baths, slave quarters, wine‐ and oil‐presses, piggery, substantial granary, and formal gardens. The development of villas in different regions of Italy from the 2nd cent. ... ...

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