Civitavecchia. Terme Taurine (Taurine Baths) o Terme di Traiano

The Terme Taurine of Civitavecchia (Taurine Baths) are located on a hill with a beautiful view of the sea. The complex is divided into two areas: the Republican Baths (dating back to the first century B.C.) and the Imperial Baths (around 130 A.D.).

The baths complex is located on a hill, about 4 km east of Civitavecchia, with a splendid view of the sea and includes two areas: the Republican Baths (dating back to the 1st century BC) and the Imperial Baths built by Trajan, the emperor founder of Civitavecchia, around 130 AD and expanded by emperor Adriano.

The baths have been described in the travel diary of the poet Namatianus in 426 AD during the story of his journey from Rome to Gaul. Namatianus tells that their name derives from a legend according to which a bull (normally assimilated to a deity) would have scratched the earth before starting a fight, and in that point a source of sulphurous hot water with beneficial properties would have sprung. In reality the waters come from a small lake at the foot of the Mondi della Tolfa (mountains that were source of alum mines) which took the name of Aquae Tauri (Trajan Waters).

From the excavations it seems that already the Etruscans had started to build spas to enjoy the hot water, but the real structure began in the Roman period of Silla.

The thermal complex occupies an area of about 2 hectares and it is possible to clearly distinguish the different functions of the environments in the two thermal baths (republican and imperial): from the changing rooms to the different thermal areas such as the hot water pools (calidarium), the parking areas (tepidarium) and the cold water pools (frigidarium).

All the rooms were richly decorated and some stretches of mosaic pavement can be seen, while the sumptuousness of the structure is distinguished above all in the area of the pool of the imperial calidarium surrounded by brick columns, which were originally covered in coloured plaster.

Lovers of technology can recognize all the ingenious water and space heating system through underground passages, pipes, double walls between which passed the hot air feeding the furnaces of some areas of the baths and underfloor heating. A particular space near the Frigidarium was dedicated to sand scrubbing and sweat baths obtained from the presence of sand warmed by the sun.

In the baths complex you can also find the remains of a library with an adjoining porch and rooms for conversations and meetings.

A curiosity is a small bell tower in Romanesque style that indicates the presence of an ancient church that dates back to 600 and of which only the perimeter walls remain. The little church had been built inside one of the ancient Roman structures and was dedicated to Saint John.

The feelings associated with the hot thermal waters of Civitavecchia and their therapeutic properties, so dear to the Romans, can still be experienced in the current Terme della Ficoncella (Ficoncella Spa).

Written by:
Benedicta Lee

Born in Rome from an Italian mother and American father, she works as a freelance communications manager and designer in the tourism sector, a career and interest which she is pursuing with a...

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