THE MOSAIC, IN GOOD STATE OF PRESERVATION, BELONGS TO A ROMAN VILLA OF THE III CENTURY A.D. LOCATED UNDER THE VINEYARDS IN THE COMMUNE OF NEGRAR DI VALPOLICELLA. ARCHAEOLOGISTS ARE WORKING TO DEFINE THE SIZE AND PRECISE LOCATION OF THE VILLA
“Vinum bonum laetificat cor hominis.” (“Good wine gladdens the hearts of men”), the Romans used to say, and apparently it benefits archaeological discoveries as well: under the vineyards of Valpolicella in the municipality of Negrar, in the province of Verona, mosaics from the pavement of a Roman villa from the third century AD have come to light. The well-preserved mosaic features interlocking motifs in vivid blue and vermilion colors, and is a further addition to the discoveries made so far on the archaeological site: the discovery of the Roman villa under the Valpolicella vineyards dates back to the 1920s, while the most recent excavation work is from the summer of 2019, when several areas of the architectural structure and flooring of the ancient villa were identified.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY IN NEGRAR DI VALPOLICELLA
“After countless decades of unsuccessful attempts, part of the pavement and foundations of the Roman villa located north of the main town, discovered by scholars more than a century ago, has finally been unearthed,” reads a note from the Negrar municipality. “With targeted coring of the soil, technicians from the Verona Superintendency are partially uncovering the remains of the artifact still present under several meters of earth, with a specific goal: to identify the exact extent and location of the ancient construction.” After those conducted in 1922, a second series of excavations was carried out in 1975; for decades thereafter the site fell into oblivion. In the summer of 2019, the Verona Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape, under the direction of archaeologist Gianni de Zuccato (the excavation was carried out by SAP – Società Archeologica Padana), returned to excavate several areas of the private land where the presence of the Roman villa emerged, finding “walls, a stone slab pavement, and three steps, probably belonging to a service area of the residence.”, declared de Zuccato to The Arena, and then discovered a portion of the geometrically patterned mosaic flooring: “this could be the southern side of a large colonnaded portico, a peristyle, perhaps open to an inner garden”, de Zuccato continued.
THE DISCOVERY OF MOSAIC PAVEMENT IN NEGRAR DI VALPOLICELLA
Interrupted due to Coronavirus lockdown, excavations under the Negrar vineyards were resumed in early May, reserving for archaeologists the discovery of the foundations and a floor mosaic of the villa in good condition. This new element adds to the other data already in the possession of technicians to understand the precise location of the villa and its dimensions. “Subsequently, the Superintendency will liaise with the owners of the area and the municipality to identify the most appropriate ways to make available and visitable this archaeological treasure that has always been hidden under our feet,” the Negrar municipality note continues, stressing the urgency of making the site available to the public. However, there is another kind of urgency: “the result will not come soon and significant resources will be needed. But it is important, finally, to chart the way.” The land where the villa is located is privately owned and, as stated last year by Negrar Mayor Roberto Grison, “they understood the importance of the intervention and demonstrated their willingness”, thus favoring the implementation of the excavations under the vineyards. In the future, Valpolicella could thus be transformed from a wine and landscape attraction to a site of archaeological interest open to the general public.