Rome is famous for the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain but the city has many other sights including one off the beaten path: Villa dei Quintili. Villa dei Quintili was a massive ancient Roman mansion built in the 2nd century along the Via Appia Antica. When the ruins were discovered in 1776 it was thought a town has been discovered, not just a home.
It was originally created and owned by the brothers Sextus Quintilius Maximus and Sextus Quintilius Condianus. They were handsomely rewarded with a fantastic piece of property for their service as army commanders.
Villa Quinitili was a luxury pad with private baths, several wings for guests, a hippodrome and acres of gardens. The Emperor Commodus was so fond of the villa he devised a plot to claim it for himself. He confiscated the property, charged the brothers with hearsay and had them put to death. After taking over the home Commodus expanded the estate. He created a round dining room used specifically in the summer where he would play revolting practical jokes on his guests. He would serve human excrement to unsuspecting guests merely to see if they would eat it and view their reaction.
He built a miniature Gladiatore arena where the gladiator Narcissus became his teacher. Commodus fought against his servants and cut off bits of them. While it was common for noble Romans to spar in private, it was taboo to do it in public. Commodus was the only emperor to take part in the gladiator games at the Colosseum – but his fights were fixed. Commodus was killed by Narcissus in the baths at the Villa dei Quintili.
Villa dei Quintili
Via Appia Nuova 1092
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 9a until one hour before sunset
Admission: €7 (includes entrance to Terme di Caracalla and Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella)