The "Domus of Tito Macro", one of the largest dwellings of Roman times among those found in northern Italy, covers an area of 1,700 square meters and is unique in Europe. The dwelling extends for about 77 metres in length and 25 in width, between two paved streets of the city (decumanus) within one of the southern blocks of the colony, founded in 181 B.C., from which come the famous mosaic of the kidnapping of Europe, the beautiful floor with vine shoot with bow and the 'unswept floor', now on display at the National Archaeological Museum, and the mosaic of the Good Shepherd, provisionally located in Palazzo Meizlik.
The residence was partially investigated in the 1950s and, between 2009 and 2015, was the object of excavations carried out by the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Padua, in agreement with the Aquileia Foundation and under the concession of MiBACT, under the direction of Prof. Francesca Ghedini and Prof. Jacopo Bonetto. The excavations have made it possible to recognise, in particular, the plan of the domus, built in the first century B.C. and lived continuously until the sixth century A.D. and to propose its attribution to Titus Macro, a wealthy inhabitant of Aquileia, based on the discovery of a stone weight with an iron handle with the inscription T.MACR.
The activity carried out by the University of Padua has brought to light an entire dwelling, not just any dwelling, but a 'atrium' house: the first one found in Aquileia, a site known for its numerous remains of domestic building, most of which, however, consist of fragments or portions that are difficult to understand. Hence the decision to face one of the biggest and most original challenges: to re-propose a Roman house in its entirety and in its spatial encumbrance, creating a roof that would make the articulation of the spaces clear to the general public and offer a sensorial experience different, but no less exciting, than that which can be experienced through virtual reconstructions.
Archaeological investigations have also made it possible to document the evolution phases of the domus, which was the subject of various transformations and renovations, including the large fishing mosaic, which will be relocated in the reception room open to the garden. The standard of living of the owners is testified by a beautiful ring of gold and glass paste dating back to the II-III century AD. More than 1,200 coins have been returned from the excavations, among them the sestertium of Maximin the Thracian (235-236 A.D.), the emperor who died in Aquileia by the hands of his own soldiers who had besieged, without success, the city remained loyal to Rome. A treasure of 560 coins was then found in the area of the atrium, hidden by its owner in a hole around 460 A.D., in the turbulent years following the capture of Aquileia by Attila, king of the Huns, and never recovered.
The house was accessed from the west, through an atrium supported by four columns and equipped with a central pool for collecting water and a well, partially preserved and integrated in the missing part. In axis with the access was the tablinum, the landlord's reception room, with a rich mosaic floor. The rear part of the house gravitated on a central open space, the garden, surrounded by a mosaic corridor and equipped with a fountain. On it opened the large reception hall and, to the south, the triclinium, flanked by living rooms and a bedroom. To the north there was the kitchen with a masonry counter, while in the eastern part there were four shops, among which also the shop of a baker with a baking oven, whose remains are still visible.