Getting to Italica
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
It's Half the Adventure
Founded in 206 BC, Italica was a ancient Roman town, close to the city of Seville, Spain. Italica is thought to be the first Roman settlement in Spain and the earliest Roman city outside of Italy. Over time, Italica grew by attracting new settlers from the Italian peninsula and with children born of Roman soldiers and the local native women of Iberia. The Roman emperor Hadrian is thought to have been born here.
In 1912 Italica was declared a Spanish National Monument, but unfortunately centuries of demolition and materials reuse have left mostly ruins. Although not quite as extensive as the forum in Rome, Italica's ruins are nothing less than spectacular. Several interesting sections of Italica are not found anywhere else.
A very large Roman amphitheater is located on the north section of the city, built by Hadrian for so called blood sport. The capacity was estimated at 25,000 spectators and its structure was completed with a marble façade. This was one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones, featuring Queen Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons. This massive structure has been dismantled over the years, but much of it is in tact.
The ruins of a bakery is still in existence, with tiled floors and ovens intact. Multiple mosaics can be found throughout the city. Many are completely exposed to the elements - but nearly perfect and largely undisturbed for 2000 years.
With no later cities being built upon Italica, the archeological site is unusually well-preserved. Cobbled stone Roman streets and mosaic floors can be viewed throughout the city. There is a Roman toilet room and bath house, complete with running water to carry the unspeekables downstream to the next village. There is a section of the ruins where several elite and beautiful homes were decorated with splendid mosaics floors, still visible.
Interestingly, even though Italica is 15 miles from downtown Seville, it is not hard to get to. You can go by train (C5 line) for €6.50 to the nearby town of Santiponce. This method involves a taxi ride or Uber (another €6-10) from the remote train station (Estación de Valencina-Santiponce) to Italica. The challenge with this regional train was enduring multiple cancelations. With only one day in Seville, we waisted valuable time waiting for a train that was cancelled twice.
If you are on foot and want to see Italica, taking the regional bus may be your best bet. After the train debacle and learning the conveniences of regional bus travel, we jumped on the regional M-170 from Santiponce to downtown Seville.
Upon arrival to Santa Justa train station in Seville, walk out front to the local bus stop and catch bus line 32 to Plaza del Duque and walk to Plaza de Armas, about 3 blocks away. From Plaza de Armas, take the M-170 to Santiponce. For only €1.50, the bus will drop you off and pick you up at the entrance to the ruins.
If you get to Seville, and you like Roman ruins, do not miss Italica near Santiponce about 15 miles north of the city. It is not hard to get to - even if you are traveling by train or bus. Wear your walking shoes as you don't want to miss an inch of this 60 acre archeological site. In the village across the street, don't miss the Roman theater.