We walked through the lovely pedestrian streets of the Santa Cruz district for the last time as we left beautiful Sevilla, pausing at the Cathedral to ask for safe passage. A ray of sunlight illuminated the statue of Santiago Peregrino, or St. James the Pilgrim, on the facade. Just then a man asked us if we were Pilgrims. He then spoke to us very sincerely in quiet, gentle Spanish for close to 5 minutes. He said a lot that I did not understand, but that was not important. It was the touching of hearts that counted. I did understand that he felt deeply in his heart, bringing tears to his eyes, that our commitment to walk such a long way to Santiago was very important. He seemed to be saying he was a Pilgrim himself, and gave us a blessing for a good journey.
Modern day Santiponce is the site of the ruins of the Roman town of Italica. They were not very well-preserved and they were, well, ruins! After Pompeii and Herculaneum they seemed like little wall footprints. However, there was a coliseum, a well-preserved theater, extensive baths, and some beautiful mosaics still in place. It is lovely to imagine the past glory of what once stood in this very spot. The sculptures, extensive mosaics and other artifacts that we saw yesterday in the archaeological museum paint a more clear picture of the former opulence. The site itself sits in a beautiful open field with rolling hills where you can see the layers of history. Sevilla shimmered in the distance and the modern town of Santiponce began right at the edge of the ruins. Today there was a delightful wedding fiesta in progress amid the pagan temples and the coliseum where gladiators once fought!
Italica was founded in 206 BC and thrived for about 400 years before it went into decline. As the first Roman settlement in the south of the Iberian peninsula, it quickly became an important city. It was founded as a home for soldiers injured in the Roman-Carthagenian Wars, and the Emperor Hadrian lived here. The Emperor Trajan was born in Italica, and he was the very first Roman Emperor to come from the colonies. He was one of the greatest rulers of the Roman empire.
Distance from Seville to Santiponce/Italica = 6 miles.
Actual distance walked= 9.31 miles.
Accommodations= Hotel Anfiteatro Romano across from the Roman ruins, a very nice hotel priced at 45 Euro for a double room.