Guided Tour: Augustus' and Livia's House on the Palatine

Augustus' and Livia's private residences are famous for their superb frescoes.

Overview

Discover with us the home of the Roman emperor Augustus, next to that of his wife Livia, erected on the Palatine hill, along with a complex of buildings aimed at ideological preaching of his power and of his own image.

Guided visit for individuals, in groups of 20 people maximum, accompanied by a guide.

 

Times and languages:

  • English: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:45pm
  • Italian: Saturdays and Sundays at 12:15pm

Tour duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Reservations are required.

Ticket Validity:
You may continue your visit of the after the guided visit is completed.
Your ticket is also valid for two days to the Colosseum, the Palatine Museum and Roman Forum and for one entrance to each site.

You must pick up your tickets at the dedicated Desk no less than 15 minutes before confirmed time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The closest available time will be automatically confirmed - which can be any time during opening hours on the selected date, if your preferred time is no longer available.

Cancellation Policy:
Confirmed tickets CANNOT be cancelled and are NOT refundable.

 

Save time ordering: Add all the service tickets you want into your basket, then fill in the form and send your request.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive an email with your order summary plus a second email confirming your successful payment. A confirmation email with links to the vouchers will be sent one business day after you place your order (Monday afternoon for orders submitted on Friday and during the weekend). Please make sure that your anti-spam filter does not block automatic emails from [email protected].

Guided Visit to Augustus' and Livia's House on the Palatine Hill

Augustus' House

The house of the emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill is not only a place with a lot of history, but also one of the most refined and elegant examples of Roman pictorial decoration in a private setting. The spaces that can be visited today are accessed by a ramp with a barrel vault entirely faced with frescoes, both on the ceiling and walls. The two small rooms on either side were probably used to host visitors, whereas the final room, on the highest level, was for the emperor's private and exclusive use. The expressive style of the décor dates the rooms to somewhere from the middle of the 1st century BC to the early first century AD, to the so-called Second style, architectural style, or 'illusionism' period, during which walls were decorated with architectural features and trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye) compositions. The official halls, where guests were hosted, are clearly more austere, whereas Augustus' private study presents imaginary and airy motifs, highlighted by the well-preserved brightness and color.

 

Livia's House

The building known as the "House of Livia" was built on the Palatine Hill, most likely in the first half of the 1st century BC., and underwent a major renovation (to which we owe the magnificent frescoes visible nowadays) around 30 BC. The rooms have a very simple floor decoration with black and white tiles, while the frescoes on the walls are rich and evocative.

The Tablinum, the main room together with the Triclinium, offers the most interesting sequence of paintings as preserved until today. Still visible frescoes show podiums topped by a series of columns that divide the wall in three parts and hold up a fake coffered ceiling that breaks through the perspective, creating an illusory three-dimensionality.

The space between the columns opens into imaginary views: in the middle section of the right wall you can see a fresco of “Io guarded by Argo with Mercury coming to free her,” the copy of a famous ancient painting of a well-known mythological episode masterfully painted by Nicias.

On the entrance wall on the other hand the myth of Polyphemus and Galatea is represented, though it is very faded. On either side of the central square, other false openings display views of imaginary landscapes and fantastic architecture, enriched with decorative motifs such as sphinxes, winged figures and candelabras.

In the adjacent room, decoration is simpler but not less impressive, and shows the wall covered with festoons and garlands with fruit, framed by a similar series of columns and architectural elements. A framed frieze runs along the top of the wall - the sketch-like technique and the use of highlights create motion in the sequence of Egyptian-style motifs. The building is attributed to Livia, Augustus' wife (even if others have suggested the owner to be Tiberius Nero's daughter, Livia) due to the lead pipes found engraved with the owner's name: Iulia Augusta, Livia’s name after she was formally adopted into the Julian family.

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