The archaeological area of the Roman Villa of Varignano preserves the oldest oil mill in Liguria. The Roman Villa is located in a particularly happy position, at the bottom of a protected inlet in Le Grazie di Portovenere, rich in water and surrounded by a land planted with olive groves.
This settlement was part of an extensive system of fundi landings built by the Romans in the wide gulf of La Spezia and related to the nearby basin of the portus Lunae. The archaeological investigations have brought to light a large complex with private harbor on the sea, which brought together the characteristics typical of the rustic villa and the maritime villa of otium and which had a long life, between the end of the II century a.C. and the beginnings of the 5th century AD
In particular, the exceptional conservation of the production space with the olive presses, dating back to the Sillean age, allows us to retrace all phases of oil production as described in the ancient treatises, from the management of the olive grove to the storage of the oil. The villa is enriched in the first century AD of structures aimed at manor comfort, such as a spa and a large water collection tank. The villa preserves examples of precious polychrome mosaics as evidence of a high quality residential building. Around the year 1000 the Olivetan monks begin to cultivate those lands and the ruins of the villa are used for terracing: the olive grove is planted again, but also vineyards and vegetable gardens.