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John Percival and Geoffrey C. Tyack

Type of house, originally built as a country retreat for a wealthy patron; the term later applied also to smaller detached suburban or urban houses in garden settings. In ancient Rome the Latin word villa referred to a house in the country as opposed to a town house (aedes); the term villa suburbana was commonly applied to a house close to but outside a town. Some Roman villas were luxury retreats but these were not typical; the great majority were farms (villae rusticae) or the centres of landed estates, where the residence was known as a villa urbana, and even the most palatial examples were likely to have an agricultural base. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the villa virtually disappeared as a building type until the revival of economic prosperity and security in the early Renaissance period, when the word villa usually applied to a small country estate or a semi-rural retreat close to a town, the equivalent of the ...