When the Romans conquered Greece, they were irresistibly attracted by its philosophers and artists, but Rome had already been in existence for a long time when Greece was reduced by the legions, and in architecture as in many other matters it had already borrowed from the civilisations that had previously been formed in Italy.
The best known of these civilisations is that of the Etruscans. Thanks to the information provided by funerary architecture and the book of Vitruvius, it has been possible to reconstruct the private house of this people.
The Etruscan house is not that round thatched hut which other primitive inhabitants of Italy had as a dwelling, but a rectangular house, whose wooden roof, formed by four sloping awnings, is pierced by an equally rectangular opening which serves as a chimney.
The poor were content with a single room; the rich had several, opening around an atrium or central courtyard, and in this case four canopies, inclined in the opposite direction to the external canopies, poured rainwater into a basin at the same time as they sheltered the flats from the sun's rays.
The canopies were supported by two parallel main beams. On the outside, there was hardly any opening other than the door, but under the roof a covered balcony sometimes went around the house.
© L'exposition de Paris - 1889