The landscape affords a
variety of view, in some places being closed in by woods, in others extending
over broad meadows, where numerous flocks of sheep and
herds of cattle, which
the severity of the winter has driven
from the mountains, fatten in
the spring warmth, and on the rich pasturage.
My villa is of
a convenient size without
being expensive to keep up.
The courtyard in front is plain, but not mean, through which you enter
porticoes shaped into the form of the letter D, enclosing a small but cheerful
These make a capital retreat for bad weather, not only as
they are shut in with windows, but particularly as they are sheltered by a
projection of the roof.
From the middle of these
porticoes you pass into a bright, pleasant inner court, and out of that into a
handsome hall running out towards the sea shore; so that when there is a
southwest breeze, it is gently washed with the
spend themselves at its base.
every side of this hall there are either folding doors or windows equally
large, by which means you have a view from the front and the two sides of three
different seas, as it were: from the back you see the middle court, the
portico, and the area; and from another point you look through the portico into
the courtyard, and out upon
the woods and distant
left hand of this hall, a
little farther from the sea, lies a large drawing room, and beyond that, a
second of a smaller size, which has one
window to the rising and another to the setting sun.
The angle formed by the projection of the dining room with this drawing
room retains and intensifies the warmth of
the sun, and this forms our winter quarters and family gymnasium, which is
sheltered from the winds.
Adjoining this angle is a
room forming the
segment of a circle, the windows of which are so arranged as to get the sun
all through the day: in the walls are niches, containing
a collection of
this is a bedroom, connected with it by a raised passage furnished with pipes,
which supply, at a wholesome temperature, and distribute to all parts of this
room the heat they receive.
The rest of this
side of the house is for the use of my slaves and
freedmen; most of the rooms
in it are respectable enough to put my guests into.
the opposite wing
is a most elegant tastefully fitted up bedroom; next to which lies another;
which you may call either a large bedroom or a modified dining room; it is very
warm and light, not only from
the direct rays of the
sun, but by their reflection from the sea.
Beyond this is a bedroom with
an anteroom the height of which renders it cool in summer, its thick walls warm
in winter, for it is
sheltered from the winds.
To this apartment another anteroom is joined
by one common wall.
From thence you enter into the wide and spacious
cooling room belonging to the bath, from the opposite walls of which two curved
basins belong; more than large enough
if you consider that the sea
is close at hand.
Adjacent to this is the anointing room, then the
sweating room, and beyond that the bath heating room: adjoining are two other
little bath rooms, elegantly rather than sumptuously fitted up: annexed to them
is a warm bath of wonderful construction, in which one can swim and take a view
of the sea at the same time.
Not far from this stands the Harpastum
court, which lies open to the warmth of the afternoon sun.
you go up a sort of turret which has two rooms below, with the same number
above, besides a dining room commanding a very
extensive lookout on to the sea, the coast, and the beautiful villas
scattered along the shore line.
At the other end is a second turret,
containing a room that gets the rising and setting sun.
Behind this is
a large store room and granary, and underneath, a spacious dining room, where
only the murmur and break of the sea can be heard, even in
a storm: it looks out upon
the garden, and
the path running round the
The path is bordered round with box, and, where that is
decayed, with rosemary: for the box, wherever sheltered by the buildings, grows
plentifully, but where it lies open and exposed to the weather and spray from
the sea, though at some distance from the latter, it quite withers up.
Next the path and running along inside it, is a shady vine-plantation,
the path of which is so soft and easy to the tread that you may walk barefoot
The garden is chiefly planted with fig and mulberry trees, to
which this soil is as favorable as
it is averse to all others.
Here is a dining
room, which, though it stands away from the sea, enjoys the garden view, which
is just as pleasant: two apartments run round the back part of it, the windows
of which look out upon the entrance of the villa, and into a fine kitchen
From here extends
portico which, from its great length, you might take for a public
It has a range of windows on either side, but more on the side
facing the sea, and fewer on the garden side, and these, single windows
alternate with the opposite rows.
In calm, clear weather these are all
thrown open; but if it blows, those on the weather side are closed, while those
away from the wind can remain open without any inconvenience.
Before this enclosed portico
lies a terrace fragrant with the scent of violets, and warmed by the reflection
of the sun from the portico, which, while it retains the rays,
keeps away the northeast wind; and it is as
warm on this side as it is cool on the side opposite: in the same way it is a
protection against the wind from the southwest; and thus, in short, by means of
its several sides, breaks the force of the winds, from whatever quarter they
These are some of its winter
advantages; they are still more appreciable in the summertime; for at that
season it throws a shade upon the terrace during the whole of the forenoon, and
upon the adjoining portion of the path and garden in the afternoon, casting a
greater or less shade on this side or on that as the day increases or
In The Summertime 1970
The portico itself is coolest
just at the time when the sun is at its hottest, that is, when the rays fall
directly upon the roof.
By opening the windows you let in the western
breezes in a free current, which prevents the place getting oppressive with
close and stagnant air.
At the upper end of the terrace and portico
stands a detached garden building, which I call my favorite; my favorite
indeed, as I put it up myself.
It contains a very warm winter room, one
side of which looks down upon the terrace, while the other has a view of the
sea, both lie exposed to the sun.
The bedroom opens on to the covered
portico by means of folding doors, while its window looks out upon the sea.
On that side next the
sea, and facing the middle wall, is formed a very elegant little recess, which,
by means of transparent windows and a curtain drawn to or aside, can be made
part of the adjoining room, or separated from it.
It contains a couch
and two chairs: as you lie upon
this couch, you get a peep of the sea; looking behind, you see the
neighboring villas, and from the head you have a view of the woods: these three
views may be seen either separately, from so many different windows, or blended
together in one.
Adjoining this is a bedroom, which neither the
servants' voices, the murmuring of the sea, the glare of lightening, nor
daylight itself can penetrate, unless you open the windows.
and seclusion are occasioned
by a passage separating the wall of this room from that of the garden, and
thus, by means of this intervening space, every noise is drowned.
Annexed to this is a tiny stove room, which, by opening or shutting a
little aperture, lets out or retains the heat from underneath, according as
Beyond this lie a bedroom and anteroom, which enjoy
the sun, though obliquely indeed, from the time it rises till the afternoon.
When I retire to this garden summer house, I fancy myself a hundred
miles away from my villa, and take special pleasure in it at the
Feast of the Saturnalia, when,
by the license of that festive
season, every other part of my house resounds with my servants' mirth: thus
I neither interrupt their amusement nor they my studies.
- Gaius Plinius
Cecilius Secundus, Pliny the Younger, Roman military tribune, govenor, orator
and gentleman of wealth
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