Caltagirone has been a center of pottery making since prehistoric times. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site built between the Erei and Iblei hills. This was an active center for Arabic culture and the local potters became world famous even in the Middle Ages. One sees ceramics everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.
One of the advantages of having a car, is that one can deviate from the travel itinerary at any time and that’s what we did based on the suggestion of our hotel in Modica. We visited the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina and were most happy we did. It was out of the way for us but truly a gem if you like mosaics. The only drawback is that this place is totally “discovered” by tour groups and we only saw a fraction of the works since it was so crowded.
One of my classes has been having a bit of a discussion about why photography (flash especially) is not permitted in museums. It’s become pretty well accepted that it has nothing to do with preserving the art unless you are looking at extremely light sensitive works on paper, but has everything to do with the distraction of people snapping pictures all the time and interfering with those around them. I especially have an aversion to those giant I-pads that people use as cameras- let’s block everyone’s view so we can get that picture or let’s put it up to some “peasant’s” face and take their picture. Anyway, enough rant for now. Of course, in the Villa Romana there was a no photograph sign but most people ignored it and it was annoying.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding the Villa Romana del Casale which was part of a 3rd century CE estate though who it belonged to or what its purpose was is still conjecture. The reason the mosaics were so well preserved is that they were buried in mud caused by a huge flood in the 12th century. The villa was discovered in the late 19th century. The bulk of the work was done in the 1950s-1960s and there is the possibility that other archaeological discoveries are underway now to expand what is already excavated. By now you should realize that Italy is one big excavation site.