After the heaviness of the Fosse Ardeatine, we were craving a bit of levity. The Terme di Caracalla — the ancient Roman Baths, would fulfill that need.
For all the times we’ve been to Rome, we had never seen them except for glimpses from a taxi or bus. Today was the day for an up-close look.
The Baths of Caracalla are much larger than I ever imagined. That’s an understatement — they are huge! Completed in 217 A.D., these massive structures cover 27 acres and could accommodate 1600 bathers in its heydey.
Well-placed signs describe the various uses of the numerous areas among the red brick ruins. Due to neglect, looting, and earthquakes, little remains of the original decor: marble statues and seats, intricate mosaic floors and walls, and decorative fountains.
But with a little imagination, one can recreate the grandeur of these ancient baths, once so important in the daily lives of the ancient Roman citizens.
After our visit to the baths, hunger drove us to a small outdoor cafe (you may notice we are often slaves to our stomachs). I advise you to avoid the pizza at “Il Piccolo Bar Al Circo Massimo,” Viale Aventino. It was tasteless, unless you consider cardboard a taste. While we waited for our unsavory snack, we amused ourselves by watching pudgy pigeons roost on the chairbacks.