Italy

The Baths of Caracalla: The Ancient Roman Spa

After all the hustle and bustle of sightseeing around Rome, I wanted to get away from tourist groups to spend some quiet time.  I met a few backpackers at the hostel who directed me to places in Rome where there are not too many people in one place at the same time.  One of these places with very few tourists around is the ancient Roman architecture called the Terme di Caracalla better known as the Baths of Caracalla.

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The Baths of Caracalla is essentially divided into 2 sections:  one inside the bath complex and one around it.  Built by Emperor Caracalla in AD 212, the magnitude of the baths were staggering and the buildings enormous.

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About 9000 workers were employed daily for five years just to create the 337 x 328 meters platform.  The baths were not just built for swimming but also as a wellness and sports venue.

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The baths were inaugurated in AD 216 but were only completed after the death of Caracalla.  The whole site was abandoned after the siege of Rome  in AD 537.

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Today, many of the walls are still several stories high giving you an idea of the scale of the establishment.

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There are informative plaques at strategic places showing the original layout.  You can also pay for an audio guide which will help you imagine what it must have been like when it was being used.

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There are quite a few mosaic floor fragments still left as well as some stonework and few frescoes.

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The Thermae Antoninianae, is considered as one of the largest and best preserved ancient thermal complexes showing the sheer ingenuity of the Roman engineers.  If you are a history and archaeology buff, walking through the ruins would be a nice respite from the crowded tourist attractions in Rome.

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The Baths are south-west of the Colisseum. To go there, I took the 160 bus from Piazza Victtorio which stopped just after the baths.  There was a small street with signs that led me to the main entrance.  I paid 6 Euros for the entrance fee (you have to pay additional 7 Euros for the audio guide).

Rome

More than the history and the ancient archaeological ruins, I particularly enjoyed the garden area.  It is a nice place to stroll or just relax and rest as there are very few people and little or no traffic noise.  I stayed there for awhile just to get away from the tourist crowds.  It was a worthy visit.

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Categories: Europe, Italy, Rome | Tags: , | 7 Comments

The Gondola Man

gondola

A gondola driver is called a ‘gondolier’.  In Venice, gondoliers typically wear a uniform outfit of black trousers, a striped shirt and a hat with a red sash.  They row standing up using a long oar.  Today, gondoliers work more for tourists than for Venetians as gondolas are no longer used as public local transportation.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: | 6 Comments

Venice: The City of Canals

venice canals

 

Venice, the capital region of Veneto, is one of the most popular destination holidays in Italy. An engineering wonder, the city stretches across numerous islands connected by bridges in a shallow lagoon and surrounded by canals and waterways.  Nowadays, old historical buildings along the canal shores have been restored and remodeled providing stunning colorful architecture with countless natural and artistic attractions, bustling cafes and an array of galleries, museums and churches.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

gondola

This week’s theme for the Daily WordPress Photo Challenge focuses on looking beyond the subject leading us through the hidden depths of the background.  My entry is my photo of the Venetian gondola’s stern and bow iron taken on top of a small bridge in one of the canals of Venice.  I was trying to capture a detailed shot of the gondola in different angles when I noticed the reflection on the water of the buildings located at both sides of the canal.  The photo composition, hopefully, makes the viewer look beyond the subject.

A gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed 11 meters long Venetian rowing boat made of wood.  Many are ornately decorated and painted in black following a decree to stop nobles in the 16th century from competing each other with flamboyant colors and decorations.  Today, it is the most elegant means of transport in Venice and the most famous Venetian vessel in the world.

What do you think of the photo? Does it make you look beyond the gondola?

Click here for more details of the Daily WordPress Photo Challenge.

Categories: Italy, Venice | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

The Leaning People of Pisa

Pisa

When i arrived at the Tuscan town of Pisa in Italy, I immediately looked for its

world famous landmark, the Tower of Pisa.  With a local guide map, i walked

from the train station to the tower.  From afar, i saw a glimpse of the tower already.

I excitedly pushed myself out of the crowd of tourists all heading to the same

direction.  When i reached the gate of the church, I was so amazed to see the tower for

real.  But then, as i entered the gate, my attention suddenly switched to the crowd of

tourists standing around with their hands in the air.  It was weird at first and made me

wonder what the heck was going on.  Then i saw countless of people too with cameras on

their knees taking photos of these people posing like they are leaning on the tower. Aha!

Now that made sense.  It was very interesting seeing these tourists doing stupid things,

posing like they are pushing, leaning, holding or carrying the tower like incredible Hulk.

I cant stop clicking my camera!….looking back i realized i took more photos of

people taking forced perspective photos than the remarkable architectural design

of the Leaning Tower of Pisa  :(.

Categories: Europe, Italy, Pisa | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Considered as the emblem of Rome, the Colosseum is the most impressive building and the largest

amphitheater ever built during the Roman Empire.  The structure is made of concrete and stones

and could seat 50,000 spectators with 80 entrances.  It is considered as one of the most well known

archaeological monuments on earth.

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Venice: The City of Love

 

Venice is known for its art, architecture and culture but most of all as one of Europe’s most romantic cities.

 

 

Categories: Europe, Italy, Venice | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Ancient Roman Monuments

A walk through Capitol Hill in Rome, Italy.

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