Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini | Attraction Guides | History Hit

About Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini

The Domus Romane is an incredible Roman site found underneath the 16th century villa Palazzo Valentini, and located close to Trajan’s Forum in the heart of what was once the centre of Imperial Rome.

This relatively new ancient site opened to the public in 2010 and is located close to Rome’s Piazza Venezia. It contains the remains of a Roman era house – or ‘Domus’ – dating to the imperial era and probably belonging to the wealthier elements of Roman society.

Visitors can explore all aspects of the ancient house, including the structure itself, the various chambers, living areas, bathrooms, kitchens, mosaics and even decorative wall frescoes – with the additional option of seeing it all brought back to life through a virtual journey. As well as the archaeological ruins themselves, the Domus Romane comes alive through a series of sophisticated light shows that recreate what the villas would have looked like. Visitors can also expolore a range of virtual reconstructions, interactive displays and films. A model of the area as it appeared in Roman times showing the various stages of the Domus Romane completes the tour.

Even before the opening of the Roman villa, Palazzo Valentini itself was already an important site in Rome – being the Provincial Council headquarters – and dating back to the end of the 16th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, the palazzo was rented to Prince Ruspoli and his family and, among others, was lived in by the composer George Frideric Handel, of Water Music fame. In 1873, after the palazzo became the property of the Provincial Deputation of Rome, renovation work was carried out and new extensions were added to turn it into the Provincial Council headquarters.

However, it was when excavations were carried out in 2005 that a startling find was revealed, the remains of a 20,000 square-foot, 4th century AD Roman villa complex alongside those of a private thermal bath. It transpired that when Palazzo Valentini was built the 16th century builders filled in the site, unwittingly preserving the villa for prosperity.