During excavation work for the construction of a new house in Appiano, the wall remains of a Roman villa were discovered.
Image gallery: Roman villa in San Paolo
In 2005 the remains of a villa from the Roman era were found in the Strada Aica road above San Paolo (St. Pauls). It has been known for a long time that the area along the Wine Road was already settled thousands of years ago: Finds in the neighbouring village of Caldaro date back to the Neolithic period. In addition, the Via Claudia Augusta, one of the most important Roman roads that connected northern Italy with southern Germany, proceeds past San Paolo and Riva di Sotto towards the Val Venosta valley and Augsburg.
The wall remains date back to the 4th century AD. Particularly well preserved and unique are the colourful resp. black and white mosaics and remains of murals, which show the whole splendour of the Roman villa, which at that time was equipped with underfloor heating and a bathing facility (balneum). Until 2010, 27 rooms have been documented, including two frescoed rooms and three with beautiful mosaic floors, similar to those in Aquileia. Marble tiles for wall or floor decoration and fragments of fine tableware were also found.
The western part is better preserved, towards the valley the walls were systematically demolished in modern times to build houses with them. The Roman villa in San Paolo, probably built for a large landowner, a so-called possessor, is today owned by the Province of South Tyrol. In agreement with the municipality of Appiano, it is to be opened to the public in the near future. On certain occasions, such as the European Heritage Day, it was already opened to visitors in the past.