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Monday, October 31, 2011

8 Days on the Via de la Plata - DAY 1 - Sevilla to Italica to Guillena

August 23 - Sunday

This morning we walked to the bus station and caught an early bus to the Roman ruins at Italica. We made this decision based on our desire to bypass walking through the industrial area between Seville and Italica. It was a good decision for us!

Another option would be to see Italica before you begin the Via de la Plata. A person could visit Italica in the morning, then go to the Museum at Parque de Maria Luisa and see all of the artifacts taken from the town, all in the same day.



To catch the bus you go to the Plaza de Armas Estacion de Autobuses. You can find it on all the Seville maps on the SAME side of the river as the city. You walk into the basement of the bus station and wait at port 34. Every day the bues begins running at 6.30 am and run until 23.30 --- Weekdays they run about every 20 minutes each direction. Weekends they run about every hour.
You will pay the bus driver and it costs 1.50 euros. The bus will go to many different stops, but you will have no problem finding the right one because it drops you off right in front of the ruins gate. It costs 1.50 euros to enter the ruins. There is a fountain with potable water there. There is a bar across the street where you can eat and buy drinks. You are allowed to go in and out with your ticket.

I can´t say enough about Italica. It was fascinating and worth much more than the entrance fee. If you are interested in archaeology, I would give yourself a couple of hours to see it all.

Italica was founded in the year 206BC by General Publius Cornelius Scipio as a place of settlement for soldiers wounded in the battle of Illipa. It also served as an important military outpost. The name Italica gave reference to the first settlers who came from Italy. 

This ancient city demonstrates wonderful examples of Roman architecture, mosaic work and city layouts. The city was provided with fresh water by means of an aqueduct and the waste water was taken away by means of underground drains. Some of these can still be seen through grilles placed at the road intersections. 

We spent about 3 hours at Italica. It was absolutely fascinating! We got lucky! There was a University Professor leading his archaeology class and we followed them around, hearing his lecture. We learned a lot!

One piece of conflicting history we learned was why the rich people of the city lived such short lives while the slave population largely outlived them (according to this professor). The pipes that carried the water into the beautiful homes were made of lead. 
 By the time a person had drank from these poison pipes from birth to maybe 20 to 30 years, they had often developed lead poisoning and died.  I had always heard that the slaves drank from the lead pipes and the rich drank wine.. but hey.. who knows?

The ruins were very well preserved
and I especially liked seeing the beautiful mosaic floors of the houses,
which must have been spectacular! 

Some of the houses uncovered include the House of the Planetarium with it's hexagonal mosaics depicting the seven Gods that gave names to the days of the week. 


The House of the Birds, partially restored to show what it may have looked like and the House of Neptune with it's warm thermal baths.

In July, Italica comes to life with the hosting of the International Festival of Italica, although I'm sure I wouldn't want to tempt the heat of southern Spain in July!

Here are few more photos of Italica. 
It is a site worth seeing!


Look! There are buns in the oven!

There had been rains...
 The walk to Guillena was flat, hot and dusty. About halfway through was a stream with trees growing along the bank. You can see it here in the distance...
See the trees in the distance? A good resting place with shade.
We stopped there, drank some water and ate our bocadillos, then continued walking...
We stopped at Bar Lolo, which was full of friendly fellows enjoying a beer and watching Scoobie-Doo cartoons. I learned that in Spain, it's ok to drop your trash on the floor.
We saw a sign at the bar advertising caracolas. Being hungry and adventurous, we decided to try an order with our beers.
We ended up drinking 4 beers, eating 2 plates of tapas, and one dish of caracolas.  They were served in a dish of salty garlicky beef broth and absolutely hit the spot! The total price of this yummy lunch for 2 was 10 Euro!
Joe is happily full of caracolas
Back on the road, we found the albergue hiding behind another bar. 
You must get the key from the barkeeper.
The albergue is really a sports hall dressing room with some twin beds, showers, and toilets. It was not especially clean, but not dirty either. We washed our bodies and our clothes. There was no clothesline, so we hung our wet clothes on the chainlink fence outside and they dried quickly in the hot sun.  As the evening progressed, we found the bonus air conditioner which made sleeping comfortable!  We had a nice evening getting to know the other pilgrims that dropped in. There were Maria Luisa and Paulo from Milan; Arnold from Belgium, and Louise from France. All were lovely folk. They found a grocery store around the corner and shared food with us. We agreed to walk together next day.
Tomorrow would be a day of Camino miracles...

****
If you'd like to walk the Camino
but aren't quite ready to do it alone,
see my website:
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 

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