For my last Saturday in Alcalá (side note: how did that happen?!?), my friend and I decided to take a day trip to Santiponce to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman city Italica. Now, neither of us had heard a thing about Italica prior to coming here, so don’t be surprised if you also have no clue what I’m talking about. In fact, the only reason I knew about Italica was because one of my schools had gone on a couple of trips there.
As we’re both fans of an early start, we got the bus from Alcalá into Sevilla at 8:10 in the morning and made our way from San Bernardo up into the centre of town. Last Friday (as in the week before the trip to Italica) we’d tried to go and visit the Basilica de Macarena but failed quite spectacularly by timing our visit to coincide pretty much perfectly with both evening Masses (oops), so we decided to two birds one stone it and visit the Basilica in the morning before going to catch the bus to Italica on the Saturday. The church was quite special inside, so if you find yourself with some time to kill in that part of the city I’d recommend a visit…but maybe not during Mass. After having visited the church we made our way to Plaza de Armas via Feria market where we picked up some supplies for a picnic lunch.
In order to get to Italica (just on the edge of Santiponce) by public transport, you have to take the bus from Plaza de Armas bus station in the city. There are buses running every half hour from the station, so we caught the 11:30 bus and rode it for half an hour until we reached Italica at the end of the line. Don’t worry about potentially missing the bus stop for Italica because it’s so obvious you can’t miss it. And if you’re going on the weekend like we did, there will also likely be others on the bus for the exact same reason, so you can always ask them.
We arrived at Italica around 12 and our first stop (after re-filling our water bottles because it was already quite a hot day) was consulting the map. We decided to save the best for last and visit the ruins of the amphitheatre just before leaving, so made our way in the opposite direction to see the remains of the rest of the city. Despite the city having been abandoned somewhere around the XII century, a lot of the mosaics and remains of the ancient houses were very well-preserved. However, one of the schools I work with took the 5 year old pre-school classes on a trip there and I can definitely see how it might not have been the best trip for them. Unless you use your imagination/are able to read the information signs, it’s tricky to picture what the city would have looked like in its prime (amazing, I’m sure).
After walking around everything but the amphitheatre in the heat, we decided it was time to stop and eat our picnic lunch. And I can safely say, despite being bitten to death by bugs, we made a smart decision in stopping by the market earlier in the morning. We’d managed to pick up five fresh rolls, some delicious cheese (which was labelled as feta, but I’m not sure I believe…or maybe the sun melted it so much the taste was different?), a cup full of cherry tomatoes, and some fruit salad. My friend is also a lot more on the ball than I am and had brought along some dried fruit (think it was blackberry-flavoured pineapple) and some roasted nuts. We found a nice half-shady bench and set about our picnic while the insects set about our legs. In all seriousness though, those kind of lunches are the ones I enjoy. Simple, but done well and with good company.
Post-lunch it was finally time to tackle the amphitheatre. And, oh my goodness, it was amazing!! Incredibly well-preserved and my friend said it left a bigger impression on her than the Colloseum in Rome, so that’s something! It’s also, as we found out later, the fifth-largest Roman amphitheatre (in terms of dimensions). I find pictures speak louder than words with this kind of thing, but before the photos, I’ll leave you this quote from one older British woman who was there when we were, “they have Roman ruins in Manchester, but nothing like this”!! Hahahahaha.
We finished up in Italica around 4pm and still wanted to visit the Monastery of San Isidoro del Campo (we’d seen it from the bus earlier) but couldn’t find any opening times online, so we consulted our good friend Google who told us it was just over 500m away, and decided to walk and check it out. In typical fashion, there were three different information signs with three different opening hours (as it turned out, all of them wrong). But according to all the signs (wrong) the Monastery was closed until 5:30, so we sat down in a cafe just opposite the Monastery and had some alcohol-free mojitos and coffee to kill an hour. Good decision. We eventually made it into the Monastery at 6pm. Turns out it opens on the hour, every hour from 10am-7pm, but you can only get in on the hour, not after. We didn’t have much time inside because the staff wanted to finish up early and were politely following us around and hinting that we leave, but I did have time to take pictures of the beautiful wall frescoes.
The combination of Italica and the Monastery is probably my favourite thing I’ve done here in Sevilla. Just a shame I left it until my very last weekend to actually go, but that’s life I guess. At the time of writing this post, I only have one day left of work and three days till I fly home to Scotland!! So you can expect a post rounding up my year abroad at some point within the next few weeks.