A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class countryhouse . Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic , villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity, sometimes transferred to the Church for reuse as a monastery . Then they gradually re-evolved through the Middle Ages into elegant upper-class country homes. In modern parlance, 'villa' can refer to various types and sizes of residences, ranging from the suburban "semi-detached" double villa to residences in the wildland–urban interface.