Rome has a new archaeological treasure open to visitors, large portions of a Roman rich man's home with complex mosaics, occupying a sub-basement of a 1950s bank building restructured as apartments.
The building on Rome's Aventine Hill, was once headquarters of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. When the bank was taken over by BNP Paribas, the new owners sold it for conversion to apartments. During the conversion work in 2014, the Roman home was discovered when workers began to excavate for an eight-car garage below the building.
BNP Paribas paid for a different kind of excavation instead, abandoning the garage plan to save the relics. Archaeologists worked under the building for four years, finishing the work in 2018; they found that over the years, six different levels had been built above the Roman floors. The past two years have been spent preparing the exhibit for visitors.
Roberto Narducci of Rome's Directorate of Cultural Assets told reporters that “We are here inside an ‘archaeological box’… an architectural structure having two functions: to protect the mosaics and to allow the public to have access to it. Here we’re inside a private building… just where they were planning to build eight garages.”