Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rome: Aqueduct Park and the Baths of Caracalla

Parco degli Acquedotti 
On my second day in Rome, I headed out early to visit the Parco degli Acquedotti or Aqueduct Park  south of the city.  Tourists rarely venture here, but there were many Romans out doing their daily dose of exercise: walking, biking, running, strolling with friends or dogs. 

Easy pickings: fresh figs!
Since the park is protected from development, it has a rustic air, with numerous wild flowers, along with fruit and nut trees along the paths. I even stumbled upon a man picking ripe figs from the numerous fig trees at the park, There's also a small waterfall from a stream running through the park: it was weird to hear the running water while imagining the transport of water across 45 miles of terrain.

The landscape of the Aqueduct Park
Next, I went to Terme di Caracalla,  or Baths of Caracalla. They were the second largest public baths built in Rome between AD 212 and 216. The sheer size of the remaining structures are impressive, making one wonder, "How did they do that?" Not just how did they build it, but how did they use all that space, just for baths?

Remnants of the past
Wikipedia comments that “Emperor Caracalla had the complex built as a piece of political propaganda. Romans from every social class enjoyed themselves in the impressive, exquisitely detailed building. Not only did this create a sense of unity, it also improved the public’s opinion of Caracalla because they attributed their pleasurable experience and lavish surroundings to him."
A rendering of the Roman baths
In modern times, the design of the baths was used as the inspiration for several modern structures, including New York City's Pennysylania Station. In the summer months operas are performed at a open air theater built near the ruins.

Portions of the floor that have been restored.
 Later in the day, I walked along the Via Appia Antica: more on that in the next post.

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