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Tourist and Cultural Centre of San Basilio – Ariano nel Polesine

Via San Basilio 12, loc. San Basilio – 45012 Ariano nel Polesine (RO)
– Fax 0426 372095

The tourist and cultural Centre of San Basilio, opened in 1995, displays the most significant finds discovered during the various excavations carried out in this area by the regional board for the protection of the cultural heritage (Soprintendenza Archeologica) of the Veneto region over the last thirty years. The museum is divided into three main parts: the geo-morphological introductory section, the archaeological exhibition and the virtual area, which provides the visitors with a visual support better to understand the archaeological site of San Basilio. At the centre of a large room, there is a sort of “impluvium” containing Roman stone material.


The visit to the museum starts with an introduction on the geomorphology of the Polesine region. The panels explain the evolution of this land from the Bronze Age to the 9th-10th cent., also including the most important periods, that is the Etruscan and the Roman ages. The Etruscan phase (8th-4th cent. B.C.) was characterized by remarkable climate changes, which determined the enhancement of the waterways in the area surrounding the city of Ferrara to the detriment of those in Veneto, thus leading to the establishment of the important trade centre in Spina, directly competing with the one in Adria.
The landform of the Po delta changed again during the shift to the Roman age, thus leading to a better suitability for human living and hence to more densely populated settlements.
The room is also provided with more general panels, providing some information on geomorphology.

The items displayed in this room refer mainly to two different stages of human settlement.
The first phase regards the settlement inhabited by Etruscan and Greek communities and people from Veneto in a period between the early 6th cent. and the late 5th cent. B.C., which was mainly characterized by commercial activities, in which the centre acted as intermediary in the trade relations between the peoples of central and eastern Europe and the Etruscans inhabiting the Po valley. The display case contains examples of Etruscan bucchero and of Etruscan pottery coming from the Po valley (made of purified clay of a light colour), a set of Attic black figure ceramic finds, Corinthian earthenware and ollas of different sizes made of coarse clay. The rich variety of the finds bears witness to the clear multicultural tradition that the settlement developed.
As a consequence of the loss of its role as trade centre, the area of San Basilio was no longer inhabited until the 2nd cent. B.C., when the large via Popilia (132 B.C.) was built, the ancient consular road connecting the roman colony of Ariminum (Rimini) to Adria. A villa recently discovered in the excavation carried out in San Basilio can be traced back to this period (1st cent. B.C. – 5th cent. A.D.); inside the building a set of service areas and living rooms have been identified displaying floor mosaics and frescoed walls.
The second and third display cases contain the ceramic material found in the villa, which includes both cooking and table pottery, such as plates and bowls in Arretine and African sigillata, thin-walled bowls and cups, bottles and bowls in blown glass, ollas and mortars made of coarse clay. The two following display cases contain some fragments of floor mosaics and of moulded skirting in marble and plaster, a set of lamps (of the African type, volute lamps and “Firmalampen” –factory lamps-) as well as some fragments of transport amphoras. The last part of this section displays the Roman coins discovered during the excavation in the villa and in the Forzello- Fondo Rocchi property, where indeed four treasure troves of Roman bronze coins were discovered, which can be traced back to the early 5th century.

This part of the museum is not fully active yet, as the multimedia computer lab has still to be accomplished. Yet there are some panels providing information on the last phase of the Roman vicus and the excavation carried out in another area, the church of San Basilio, which led to the discovery of different stages of the building, the most ancient of which dates back to the 9th-10th cent.

Inside the roofed courtyard it is possible to see some of the finds discovered during the excavation in the roman villa of San Basilio, which include building materials (tile, weight, bricks, pipes, an uncertain column portion and a soft stone Ionic capital decorated with bucrania and garlands), funerary items (an inscribed stele and an impressive architectural marble sarcophagus of the 2nd-3rd cent. A.D. bearing an inscription from Pinnia Clementina together with the daughters Plauta and Plautina to the husband and father) and fictile tools (two transport amphoras of the Dressel 6 type). The small amount of materials displayed bears witness to the hypothesis that the excavated area belonged to the most rustic and productive part of the villa.


Admission: Solo su prenotazione
Negli orari di apertura
Su prenotazione

Ticket: No

School access

Disabled access

Opening Times

Opening Days
Tipology When Specs
Summer Thursday 9.00 – 12.30
Summer Friday 9.00 – 12.30
Summer Saturday 10.00 – 12.00 / 14.30 – 18.30
Summer Sunday 10.00 – 12.00 / 14.30 – 18.30
Winter Saturday 10.00 – 12.00
Winter Sunday 10.00 – 12.00

Recommended tour time (minutes): 45

Services for visitors




Rest points

Educational Services

Guide a stampa
The guide is currently being reprinted; leaflets are available also in English, German and French.

Information boards
Italian, English, Slovene

Captions under exhibits
Not accomplished yet.

PC learning points

Multilingual ads: Inglese
Slovene, Leaflets and Panels

Guided Tours

Educational activities

Library and documentation centre

Other activities


De Min M. 1986, L’abitato arcaico di San Basilio di Ariano Polesine, in L’Antico Polesine, pp. 171-184.
Salzani L., Vitali D. 1988, L’abitato arcaico di San Basilio di Ariano Polesine, in Quaderni di Archeologia del Veneto, IV, pp. 37-40.
Musei e raccolte archeologiche del Veneto 2004, a cura di Di Mauro A., Dosson di Casier, pp. 73.
Bonetto J. 2009, Veneto (Archeologia delle Regioni d’Italia), Roma, pp. 389.

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