Venice, Istanbul, Ravenna? No way! It’s in Rome that mosaics play the largest role in the local art scene. Ancient Roman, Medieval, modern mosaics, floor, wall or ceiling mosaics, the Eternal city can boast the best preserved mosaics and the largest amount of them.
The decorative art of mosaic was not invented in Rome, but it became one of its features from the 2nd century BC.
At first it was only floor or wall mosaics in private houses but in the 1st century AD they started to be used also in public spaces. In 340 AD for the first time ever on earth mosaics started to be applied to ceilings. It happened in Santa Costanza. They were mostly abstract themes, floral, fruit or vegetable ones.
Then the visual representation of Jesus became the norm. It all started in Santa Pudenziana.
Mosaics were the main form of art until, in the 13th century, painting turned into the most common visual art as it was more versatile.
It was only in the mid-19th century that mosaic knew a sort of Renaissance. But even Futurism and Fascism extensively used it in Rome as can be seen in the modern areas of the city.
We divided our itinerary in three parts: Ancient Rome, Middle Age and Modern Times. Let’s start!
The best out door places to admire ancient Rome’s are Ostia’s archaeology site and the Caracalla baths.
For indoor spaces, we recommend you in particular the National Roman Museum in front of Termini station, but also the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums which have a smaller but qualitatively very high collection of ancient Roman mosaics.
For Middle Age mosaics, we already mentioned Santa Costanza and Santa Pudenziana. The early medieval years also featured Santa Maria Maggiore’s mosaics. The later part of the Middle Age saw a worsening of the artistic craft in Rome as can be seen in Santa Prassede. The borough of Trastevere can boast two beautiful churches with mosaics: Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria in Trastevere. Near the Colosseum, San Clemente is a must for mosaics lovers. But the zenith of the Roman mosaic craft was reached for the Sancta Sanctorum, near St John Lateran.
The modern mosaics in Rome reappeared thanks to British artists, and specifically to the Arts & Crafts movement. They decorated the Anglican church of St Paul Within the Walls, along via Nazionale.
Coming to the 20th century, the modern area of EUR hosts some Futurism inspired mosaics at the fountains of the Salone delle Fontane  and between Piazza Guglielmo Marconi and Viale della Civiltà Romana 
Finally in the Foro Italico, complex, near the Olympic Stadium. The indoor Olympic swimming pool and around the fountain near the stadium: a very large area with black and white floor mosaics.
Last but not least, we now have a new venue hosting a mosaic exhibition. It’s in Ostia, Rome’s port, at Exp’Ostia.  Through January 13.