Villa of Livia at Prima Porta Rome

Rome‘s Villa of Livia is also known under the name Villa di Primaporta. Livia Drusilla was the wife of Emperor August. The first excavations took place in 1863 and one of the first finds was the statue now known as the Prima Porta Augustus, which can be seen in the Vatican Museums. Until 1973 the villa was private property. After that it was appropriated and the city made it into a public park. Restorations of the surviving buildings started in 1982.

Opening hours (2021)

From April 1st till October 31st: Thursdays, Fridays and 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of the month from 09.30 till 13.30; 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of the month from 09.30 till 18.30. From November 1st till March 31st: The same, except on Sundays, when the monument closes at 16.30. Closed: January 1, May 1, August (entire month), December 25. (The monument will remain closed during the Covid crisis.)

Admission

Admission is free. Guided tour:  On the third Sunday of every month (except August) there is a guided tour of the Villa di Livia. The cost is 7 Euros (plus 2 Euros booking fee). Tel. +39 06 33626826 or +39 06 39967700 (Coopculture, for tickets).

Villa of Livia at Prima Porta Rome

History

Prima Porta Augustus - Villa of Livia Rome
The famous Prima Porta Augustus can be seen in the Vatican Museums.

The Villa di Livia belonged to and is named for Livia Drusilla, wife of the Emperor Augustus. Its full name was Villa di Livia ad Gallinas Albas. This name was connected to a legend. An eagle was supposed to have dropped a chicken with a bay leaf in its beak in Livia‘s lap. The haruspices (people who could divine the future by inspecting the entrails of poultry and other animals) subsequently told Livia to raise the chicken and plant the leaf.

The villa is located on a plateau near the present Prima Porta. The first excavations at the site took place in 1863 and brought to light some of the most famous Roman works of art. The statue that is known as the Prima Porta Augustus is on display in the Vatican Museums, whereas the wall paintings depicting a garden can be seen in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme seat of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

The villa was restored in the 2nd century. The different floor mosaics (sometimes in black and white, sometimes many-colored) are also visible in the Palazzo Massimo.

Description

Villa of Livia - Palazzo Massimoa alle Terme Rome
The painted wall that is meant to look like a garden.

The northern wing of the villa contains a thermal complex, with a big square cistern and a number of rooms. The frigidarium consists of two tubs for cold water. It is surrounded by other spaces, like the calidarium, which is divided into of a half-round and a rectangular basin.

A corridor separates the thermal baths from an open space, probably a garden surrounded by a peristyle. The rooms around this area are characterized by black and white marble floors.

The corridor leads to an atrium with a central impluvium, from where one can enter the actual villa.

The villa is supported by a wall on the Tiber side. Footpaths led from here to the Via Flaminia and the Via Tiberina.

Address and public transport

Address: Via della Villa di Livia, 126 – Rome (District: Zona Prima Porta). The nearest bus stop is Cimitero/Viale Uffici (lijn C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7). It is however easier to reach the villa by train (the Montebello stop on the Roma-Viterbo line).

Villa of Livia – Via della Villa di Livia, 126, Rome

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