The entrance for visitors, in via Gian Battista Barbiani 2, is from the late baroque Chiesa di Sant’Eufemia, where a staircase descends below street level. The Domus of the Stone Carpets, as it was renamed by the critic Federico Zeri during his visit, is one of the most important archaeological sites of the last few decades.
The discovery of the remains of the floor of an important Byzantine residence from the fifth-sixth century A.D. in 1993 was accidental, and led to the temporary halt of the construction of an underground car park for the surrounding buildings. In actual fact, there was more than one discovery: remnants superimposed on top of each other indicated several buildings from the third-second century A.D. to the Middle Ages and three domus from different periods.
Consequently, all the exceptional historical evidence was saved, placing the greatest importance on revealing the rich Byzantine residence, which was the first private residence found in Ravenna, and which is very large and certainly belonged to an important court official.
Built over three different phases, it has 14 rooms and 2 courtyards of over 700 square metres. The joining of two different buildings, originally separated by a Roman road of which you can still see part of the paved ground, is clearly visible.
Raised walkways allow you to walk around the entire perimeter of the site and admire the wonderful floor mosaics, which are actual stone carpets: the central rose decoration and the large vase drawings all around it decorated the large waiting room, connected to the atrium where guests were welcomed and whose floor is decorated with knucklebone patterns.
In the beautiful, marvellously decorated reception hall, the enlargement created with the mosaic extension beyond the frame of the first flooring is noteworthy. In the centre there is one of the most admired decorations ever, the Danza dei Geni delle Stagioni (Dance of the Geniuses of the Seasons), a sort of round dance in which, to the sound of Pan, dance the personifications of Autumn (from behind), Spring (on the left), and Winter covered by a hood and, at its side, we see a hint of Summer, which unfortunately has been lost.