• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Six breathtaking Roman ruins that you've never heard of
Italy is packed with incredible ruins you might not have heard of. Photo: Nicola d'Orta

Six breathtaking Roman ruins that you've never heard of

The Local · 22 Feb 2016, 08:56

Published: 22 Feb 2016 08:56 GMT+01:00

Spartacus' Theatre


Photo: Nicola d'orta

The Anfiteatro Campano in Campania was built in the first century AD and is 49m high, with a circumference of 170 metres. It once hosted thousands of baying, bloodthirsty Romans who came to watch gladiators perform.

Although the ruin might not be quite as well preserved as the Flavian Ampitheater in Rome, a visitor ticket costs just €2.50 – some €10 less than the price of a visit to the Colosseum.

What's more, the Anfiteatro Campano was the arena in which legendary gladiator Spartacus led a slaves' rebellion against the might of the Roman Empire.

A crowd-free Pompeii?


Photo: Riccardo Cuppini

Located near Rome, Ostia Antica was once a thriving port town, which handled much of the Eternal City's imports and exports until it was abandoned in AD 476.

The ruins at Ostia Antica are much like those at Pompeii except they don't contain any luxury villas.

They do contain roman public toilets, homes, warehouses, tombs, shops and bars. If you're staying in Rome it's a much easier day trip than Pompeii and a great way to experience life in a Roman town without having to endure the hordes of tourists who flock to Italy's most-visited cultural site each day.

A lost supercity


Part of the Roman forum in Aquilea. Photo: Wikimedia.

Today the town of Aquilea in northeast Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is home to just 7,000 people. But during antiquity it was one of the most important trading cities in the Mediterranean with a population of 100,000.

In fact, it was so large that much of the ancient city has not yet been excavated and lies buried under the countryside surrounding the town.

But Aquilea's Roman forum in the centre of town is extremely well preserved and it's easy to imagine how it buzzed with merchants and traders during the city's heydey.

Visitors can also find a museum filled with pieces found in the area around Aquilea, including ancient mosaics, ceramics, jewellery, bronzes and weaponry, which help paint a vivid picture of life 2,000 years ago.

Nero's massive swimming pool


Older than it looks: Nero's pool. Photo: Wikimedia

It is thought that the plush Villa Oplontis in Campania once belonged to Emperor Nero. The house is certainly a fitting place for a nobleman.

It contains huge rooms with beautiful frescoes and mosaics, a bath house and an incredible 60-meter swimming pool. That's 10 meters longer than Olympic size!

Roman girls in Bikinis


The bikini isn't as modern as you might think. Photo: Kenton Greening

Story continues below…

Located near the town of Enna in central Sicily, the Villa Romana del Casale is a Roman villa with some of the best preserved and finest examples of Roman mosaic art.

Expertly created mosaics provide fascinating insights into Roman daily life depicting the ancients at work and play. Curiously, one mosaic unearthed in 1960 shows Roman girls frolicking in bikinis. Its discovery came 14 years after Parisien designer Luis Rèard came up with the design for the iconic swimsuit.

The Empire's forgotten capital


Mosaics above the tomb of Queen Galla. Photo: Wikimedia

Ravenna is the town where Julius Ceasar gathered his troops before marching on Rome in AD 49 – but the city only really came into its own during the twilight of the Roman Empire.

It was even the Empire's western capital from AD 402 until its collapse in  AD 476. Owing to this the town provides many fantastic examples of late Roman art and early christian churches.

The Basilica di San Vitale is a unique blend of Roman, Byzantine and Baroque, while the Mauseleum of Roman Queen Galla includes a stunning scene of San Lorenzo in flames, which allegedly inspired poet Dante Alighieri to write The Divine Comedy.  

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Plane of US WW2 pilot finally found near Bologna
The P-47 Thunderbolt in action. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The final resting place of an American Second World War fighter pilot has been found by Italian amateur archaeologists near Bologna.

Only a quarter of Italian towns host refugees: study
Just 2,026 of the country's 8,000 municipalities currently host migrants on humanitarian grounds. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

In spite of Italy's position on the front line of the Mediterranean refugee crisis, just one in four of Italy's municipalities has housed refugees and asylum seekers.

Turin could slash Wi-Fi over 'radiation' concerns
Turin hopes to reduce potentially harmful radiation from wireless modems. Photo: Scott Beale/Maelic/Flickr

Turin is planning to cut back on Wi-Fi in state schools and government buildings over concerns that radiation might damage people's health.

Italy could make it legal to grow your own weed
Italy's parliament will begin debating new cannabis laws on Monday. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

Italy could legalise home-grown cannabis, if a law being debated on Monday gets the green light.

Italy has 'no banking problem': finance minister
"All the countries should relax: there is no Italian banking problem," Padoan said. Photo: AFP

Italy does not have a problem with its banks, finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Sunday, despite investors fretting about nearly $400 billion of bad debts weighing down the sector.

Pope Francis visits Poland amid security concerns
"Refugees? The pope will say something on that," Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican ambassador to Poland said. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis lands in Poland on Wednesday amid heavy security for an international Catholic youth festival where he is expected to make the case for welcoming refugees, a thorny issue for Warsaw.

Italy hosts first Down's Syndrome 'Olympics'
The athletes taking part are dubbed T21s, named after the most common form of Down's Syndrome, trisomy 21. Photo: AFP

The roar from the stands in Florence could not have been louder if it had been stars Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on the track.

Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Milan is vying to be Europe's post-Brexit financial and business hub. Photo: Melanie Bowman

Milan has also joined the race among European cities to pick up the post-Brexit spoils should London’s financial institutions choose to shift their operations elsewhere. But is it a viable contender?

Ekberg wannabe says Trevi dip was a 'homage to Rome'
Delilah Jay just before she waded into Rome's Trevi Fountain on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Delilah Jay

“I love Rome, I love Fellini and I love Ekberg – I’ve had so many comments on my Facebook page saying I look very much like her.”

Venice to build new bridge in memory of Bataclan victim
28-year-old student Valeria Solesin was the only Italian victim of the Paris terrorist attacks. Photo: Pierre Teyssot / AFP

Venice, the so-called 'city of bridges', is set to build one more, in honour of the only Italian victim of last November's Paris terrorist attacks.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,557
jobs available