I Mosaici del Tellaro
The Val di Noto - as so many places across the world - is filled with the marks of the people who lived there before and every so often some of these ancestrial testimonies re-emerge. In places like Italy more often than not this happens because people where excavating to build a new road, to place the foundations of a new building and so on.
The mosaics of Villa del Tellaro are one of these hidden treasures of the Val di Noto. Lying below a 'masseria', a traditional farm house, just outside of Noto on the right shore of the Tellaro river for hundreds of years they were only discovered in 1971. Suprisingly, the public was only ever able to see some of the restored mosaics in the church of San Domenico in Noto in 2003!
The villa itself is still under restoration but, hopefully, it should be reopened to visitors this coming spring. We are looking forward to the chance of visiting the place and seeing the mosaics 'in situ' (as well as reporting back on it).
The entire story of the mosaics, from the initial excavation work to the restoration of the villa was fraught with difficulties. The inital work to just uncover the mosaics took more than 20 years - even though they are considered one of the most important finds of recent decades in Sicily. At the end, what was uncovered was a squared peristyle (or open courtyard) of 20 meters length, which is the core part of the ancient complex, surrounded by living quarters.
On the West and East sides, the ancient wall structures have been totally destroyed or severely damaged by the building of the masseria. On the south part of the complex, the ruins of the foundations of the ancient walls allowed the identification of the original apsis and part of the stoa.
The polychrome mosaics, which date back to the 4th century A.D., represent beautiful combinations of rounded octagons with circular medallions, laurel festoons, animal figures, hunting, dancing and banquet scenes.
In the easternmost part of the stoa, the mosaics tell stories from the Iliad with the central scene depicting the recovery of Hector's body.
These mosaics have an inestimable artistic and archeological value, providing interesting information about the social and economic organisation of life in Sicily during the 3th and 4th century A.D. and acting as a direct link between the thriving local mosaic artist of today to those of hundreds of years ago.