The Archaeological Area of Villa Giulia of Ventotene includes the great Imperial Villa commissioned by Augustus for his vacation away from Rome. It is a building in perfect harmony between architectural order of the period and nature. It was built on the promontory of Punta Eolo and occupies an area of 300 meters in length and 100 in width. Even today the gardens, the rooms and the cisterns are recognizable.
The construction ended with a large verandah overlooking the sea and with a series of steps leading to a terrace that ran around the entire perimeter of the villa.
Giulia the First Exiled Woman
The imperial villa commissioned by Augustus was soon transformed from a resting place to an imperial forced residence for Giulia, daughter of the Roman emperor. Giulia was a victim of the same moral laws held by her father. She was accused of bad ‘form’ for having shown herself in public with her lover, and was exiled to Ventotene in the villa that would then take her name.
In Roman times adultery was used often as an excuse to get rid of an uncomfortable political opponent! Giulia is in fact a victim of the plot by Livia, the second wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius, who later became the second emperor of Rome. Augustus had no sons and his only heirs would be the nephews, children of Julia, who died in mysterious circumstances.
In this villa Octavia was also exiled who the first wife of Nero, she being the victim of another fight between women. Her destiny was chosen by Poppea, the second wife of Nero who, not satisfied with the forced exile of her rival in love, decided to make her die by drowning in boiling water in the heat of Villa Giulia.
The last imperial woman to find forced refuge on the island was Flavia Domitilla, niece of Domitian, who was accused of erethism (probably sexual but also known as Mad Hatters’ Disease).