Ensemble of Capo di Bove

Villa of Capo di Bove

In January 2002, the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, under the proposal of the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome, purchased the private estate located at number 222 on the Ancient Appian Way, exerting right of pre-emption over it.

The archaeological relevance of the site was already known by antique wall structures and a mosaic flooring with black and white tesserae. It is a green area of about 8,500 square metres comprising a central edifice on three levels and a secondary construction serving as an outbuilding of the Villa. Between 2003 and 2005 three archaeological excavation campaigns involving an area of about 1,400 square metres were carried out and they brought to light a thermal complex whose primary construction phase is documented since the middle of the 2nd c. CE.

The thermae (bath-houses) show evident signs of subsequent construction phases that testify to the frequentation of the complex and the transformation of some parts of it at least until the 4th century, along with traces of later phases of frequentation, probably medieval and post-medieval, confirmed by the recovery of structures intended for agrarian production. The thermal complex, recorded as a  unitary realisation issuing from an organic and functional design, has been reconstructed at the fourth mile of the Appian Way, on the western verge  of the road, about 450 metres south of the sepulchre of Caecilia Metella. About the attribution of the ownership of the complex only conjectures can be proposed: it could have been the bath of a collegium or of some confraternity with cultic or funerary purposes having interests in the area; yet, the technics of construction and some of the materials found could allow us to cautiously conjecture that the establishment could have pertained to the vast possessions that Herodes Atticus and Annia Regilia had in the area  precisely  in the mid-2nd century CE.

An important rearrangement work has completely redrawn the garden of the Villa, wherein important arboreal species have been planted, and has converted the outbuilding  into a reception point for visitors and, finally, restored the main building in conformity with regulations; the latter, built upon a Roman cistern and known through the Pius-Gregorian Cadastre (1816-1835) as a “house intended for the use of the vineyard” (vineyard cottage), was transformed in the aftermath of World War II and today has a characteristic external curtain wall using antique materials, many of which were probably retrieved from the Roman monuments flanking the Appian Way.

The structure houses offices of the Superintendency, a conference room and the Archive of Antonio Cederna, donated to the Italian State by his heirs.