Where Did Farmers Live In Ancient Rome

Parks, Suburbs and Villas

In Ancient Rome, many farmers lived on the city’s outskirts in suburban areas known as vici. These spacious compounds had homes, gardens, and farm land where crops were grown and animals were kept. Many farmers lived in large multi-family villas. These sprawling estates had several bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, fountains, and were surrounded by lush gardens and olive groves.
The urban elite also owned large suburban farms near the city. These farms supplied the city with its grain and other produce. Wealthy Roman families would often build luxurious villas at their suburban farms to enjoy hospitality and leisure in the countryside. Some of these villas even had baths, pools, and glamorous mosaic floors.

Agri Vaticani and Horti Lamiani

Agri Vaticani was a large suburban estate located outside of Rome. It was owned by the Roman Senate, who used it to cultivate crops and raise animals to help feed the people of Rome. This ancient farm was especially renowned for its horse breeding facilities and breeding of the famous Roman war horses.
The Horti Lamiani was a luxurious suburban villa located on the outskirts of Rome. This estate was owned by Agrippa, a wealthy Roman politician, who used it for recreational activities. The villa was surrounded by lush gardens, olive groves, and even boasted its own private bath.

Plebeian Farms and Plantations

Most of the farmers in Ancient Rome were plebeians, or lower-class citizens. These plebeian farmers typically lived in large family clusters in the suburbs. They often shared a single home, along with other family members, with their gardens and farms located nearby.
The plebeians owned small farms and plots of land and would cultivate them to grow crops and raise animals. They grew a variety of different vegetables, fruits, and grains and had a variety of animals such as pigs, cows, and chickens.

Urban Gardening

Many of the plebeian farmers would also supplement their income by growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs in small urban gardens. These city gardens, which were often located on the rooftops of homes or in courtyards, were filled with an abundance of produce and a variety of herbs. Many of the more wealthy urban citizens had their own private gardens that were filled with exotic plants and herbs.

Pathways to Prosperity

In Ancient Rome, many farmers were able to achieve prosperity. They used their land to cultivate a variety of crops and sell their produce for profit. The privileged few who owned large villas and suburban farms could enjoy hospitality and leisure in the countryside and generate substantial income from their land.

The Urban Squares

Urban squares, known as fora, were key sites for commerce and social life in Ancient Rome. Many of the farmers would bring their goods to these places to sell, while others came to purchase the goods they needed. The squares also hosted a variety of cultural events, such as theatrical performances, chariot races, and competitions.

Local Markets and Festivals

Local markets, known as macella, were often held in Ancient Rome. These markets provided farmers, craftsmen, and traders with an opportunity to sell goods for a profit. Farmers could bring their crops and animals to the market and sell them for a profit.
Farmers also celebrated a variety of agricultural festivals, such as the Saturnalia and Robigalia, which honored and celebrated agriculture and fertility. These festivals featured a variety of events, such as theatrical performances, chariot races, and processions.

Public Recognition and Reward

The Roman Senate, recognizing the importance of the agricultural sector to the Roman Empire, often rewarded farmers with public honors. Some of the more successful farmers were given the title of “villicus”, which was an honor bestowed upon successful farmers. The villicus was also given a seat in the Senate and was tasked with managing the public’s grain supply.


In Ancient Rome, farmers were integral to the economy of the Roman Empire. They lived on the city’s outskirts, in suburban areas, with some of the more elite citizens living in large villas. They owned small farms and cultivated their land to produce crops and animals. Farmers would sell their goods in urban squares and local markets and celebrate a variety of agricultural festivals. The Roman Senate also recognized their importance and awarded some of the successful farmers with public honors.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

Leave a Comment