Fantastic stone tile flooring
The splendid mosaic floors, which are the only ones in Umbria to bear these depictions, render Spello's Villa of Mosaics one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries in the region. The decorations feature wild animals, mythical creatures, a wine pouring scene, male figures with plant attributes representing the Seasons, figures of satyrs, and polychrome geometric elements. The iconographic choices are likely linked to the wine production on the part of the owner.
Let's explore the mosaics in the main rooms
The Bird Room – This room features a geometric decoration with six octagons containing different birds, including partridges. They seem to make reference to hunting and good cuisine.
The Amphora Room – This room contains an unusual decoration with four stylized amphorae arranged in a cross pattern: a subject whose only other comparable counterpart is found in a villa in Rome, in the Tor Marancia district. The decoration likely alluded to the presumed wine production activities of the Villa's owner. This room may have been used for private meals.
The Triclinium – This was the main room of the Villa, the dining hall used for banquets in which the guests ate lying down, as was the custom in ancient Greece. Floor decoration is dedicated to Bacchus, the grape harvest, and wine. It features what is known as a “cushion-style” decoration. The depictions include wild and domestic animals (panther, deer, boar, duck, etc.), mythical creatures (marine tigers), and human figures.
The central wine pouring scene is of particular interest. A servant is pouring wine from an amphora resting on his shoulders into a cup held by a cup bearer. The overflowing wine is collected in a krater (a type of receptacle used in those times) sitting on the floor.
Other figures are arranged symmetrically, holding plant elements or items linked to the world of agriculture (like sickles and ears of wheat). The rhythms of life and nature are probably denoted in the Villa's mosaics by these figures representing the four seasons.
The Radiant Sun Room – This room gets its name from the central octagon, which features a radiant sun shining down upon marsh vegetation, consisting of reeds with bunches of flowers. Some of the birds, including a hoopoe and a duck, are are depicted among the vegetation. The sun, the marshy environment, and the abundance of birds denote the fertility of the land.
The Geometric Mosaic Room – This room was most likely a bedroom. The room features a mosaic floor with a motif consisting of four squares in a cross pattern: a simple and elegant decoration, with a play on contrasting colours, that gives rise to other geometric shapes. The remains of the wall paintings, with their red, yellow and blue backgrounds, which featured painted floral and mythological marine motifs, are of particular interest.
The Shield Room – This room features a continuous geometric motif consisting of “pelta” shields, or rather Greek shields shaped like crescent moons. On the inside there are two red and black linear cornices containing rows of diamonds with concave sides.
The Heated Room – This room dates back to the Villa's earliest stages. The presence of suspensurae, brick pillars that allowed a cavity to be created between the foundations of the building and the floor, reveals that this was a heated room.
The Peristyle – This was the portico that surrounded garden or courtyard at the centre of the Villa. It featured flooring with a geometric motif, made up of monochrome tiles. Although no evidence traces of the colonnade have been found, it can be assumed that there was one, as it was customary for these types of environments. In addition to being an elegant comfort, the peristyle also reflected the prestige of Greek culture.