Villa of Livia Reopens in Rome

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 02:45

The residence of Emperor Augustus’ wife, Villa of Livia, has reopened to the public after undergoing partial restoration.

The villa, which is located in the Prima Porta suburb on the outskirts of Rome, features a series of rooms with blue painted ceilings opening onto an internal garden where Livia grew her plants and herbs, hallways decorated in black and white geometric mosaics leading to the thermal baths and guest rooms, and walls frescoed in Pompeian red.

As the villa was famous for its laurel grove, restorers have placed 90 potted laurels on the vast terrace overlooking Rome.

"It was the imperial family's place of rest and relaxation," Rome Archeology Superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera said.

Livia Drusilla was Augustus’ third wife. According to legend, Augustus fell in love with Livia at first sight, while he was still married to his second wife, Scribonia, and Livia was pregnant with her husband's child. Augustus divorced his wife, and persuaded or forced Livia's husband to divorce as well. The couple married three days after Livia delivered a son, waiving the traditional waiting period. They remained married for the next 51 years, and Livia would become Augustus’ trusted adviser.

The emperor often visited the villa, which would become a model for Renaissance villas.

The villa was reopened during celebrations for the 2,000-year anniversary of the emperor's death in 14 BC. It is only partially excavated, but funds to complete excavations have run out, officials said.