Roman villa in Russi, Ravenna

The Roman villa in Russi, discovered during the 1930s and located 20km away from Ravenna, is one of the largest archaeological sites in northern Italy.

A black and white diamond and star-shaped geometric pattern resembling a large chess board decorates the mosaics on the floor of the tablinum, the reception room in the Roman villa in Russi, Ravenna. Spanning a surface area of approximately 8,000 square metres, the structure, rediscovered during an archaeological dig in the late Thirties, is one of the largest and most important Roman villas in northern Italy.

The collection


OVS Arts of Italy is not only a project which creatively combines the languages of art and fashion. Its main aim is to bring the Italian artistic heritage closer to the OVS community through an original story. That's why OVS Art News items have been created: curiosities, anecdotes and ideas for a more in-depth acquaintance with Italian art to enable you to rediscover, enjoy and appreciate the extraordinary beauty under the eyes of us all.

9. Russi’s Roman Villa, Ravenna

Even if the mosaic technique dates back to ancient Egypt, it is the Roman period that sees mosaics reach their peak splendour; indeed, the Latin name of this technique, “opus musivum” means “work of the Muses”. During the imperial period, in particular, the techniques became so refined that positions began to be created for technicians with different functions: the pictor imaginarius (responsible for drawing); the tessellarius (who laid floor mosaics); the pictor parietarius (who took care of wall drawings); and the musivarus (who installed the wall mosaics).

Villa romana di Russi, Ravenna

In addition to the Roman Villa of Russi, another extraordinary testimony of Ravenna’s Roman history is the so-called "Domus of stone carpets (domus dei tappeti di pietra)", only discovered in 1993. Located about 3 mt below ground, the domus houses an ancient stately home: divided into fourteen rooms and three courtyards, it is entirely decorated with beautiful geometric and figurative mosaics covering a total area of 700 square metres.

Villa romana di Russi

In ancient Rome, besides the house (domus) and the block of flats (insula), there was another type of dwelling: the villa which could be urbana, that is a country house, or rustica, an actual farm where slaves took care of producing goods both for domestic use and for sale. Rustica villas, such as the one of Russi near Ravenna, have been considered one of the most efficient forms of Rome’s economy.

The art work

The Roman country villa located close to Russi, in the province of Ravenna, is one of the most significant and best-preserved in northern Italy. According to Cato, a country villa is a house in the country that stood alongside a navigable river, a main road and not too far from the sea. Villas like this were actually estates where both the dominus (the owner) and the villicus (the farmer) lived and where crops and animals were sufficient for the family’s survival. The first traces of the Russi Villa were discovered at the end of the 1930s, when the thermal baths area of the house was uncovered.

This was then followed by several other digs that brought to light a complex of buildings spread over 8000 square metres. The produce from the villa were probably allocated to men from the Roman fleet that was stationed in nearby Ravenna around the 1st-2nd centuries A.D., and after the fleet left, the villa went into decline and was then abandoned during the middle ages. The floors are well-preserved and are mostly in black and white mosaic. They are an excellent example of mosaic floor decoration used in northern Italy in that period.

Su concessione del Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo - Soprintendenza Archeologia dell'Emilia Romagna, riproduzione vietata a scopo di lucro , anche indiretto.