Literary descriptions

In addition to agricultural treatises, other sources speak about villas, about their appearance and the customs of their inhabitants. Pliny the Younger (61 CE– ca. 112 CE) was the nephew and adopted son of Pliny the Elder, author of the monumental Naturalis Historia. Pliny the Younger's contribution to literature was somewhat different: he was a consummate letter-writer. In addition to detailed descriptions of architectural complexes, his Epistulae paint a remarkable portrait of the landscape and farms of Roman Italy. A few centuries later, in the second half of the 5th century, the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris testify to the continuity of the lifestyle of the privileged classes in late Antiquity.

Pliny the Younger, who was one of the richest men of his time, mentions several of his villas, including two villas on Lake Como that Pliny dubbed "Tragedy" and "Comedy", the Laurentine Villa near Ostia and the Tuscan Villa. In a similar manner, Sidonius Apollinaris describes the rural estates belonging to the senatorial aristocracy in southern Gaul. His letters mention Avitacus, the Auvergne estate belonging to his wife on the shores of Lake Aydat, Vorocingus and Prusianum, owned by his uncle Apollinaris and Tonantius Ferreolus, located north of Nimes, Consentius's villa Octavianus Ager near Narbonne and the burgus in Aquitaine that was the property of Pontius Leontius.

Medias

Nardy layout

A "gardened landscape" around the villa in Tuscis, after the Letters of Pliny the Younger.
Interpretation by J.-P. Nardy, Mappemonde 4/1987, Belin-Reclus