Retracing the footsteps of Spartacus

Published in Out of Town
05 May 2017

A 1960 Stanley Kubrick film (with Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons and Charles Laughton) which made him known to the whole world: we are talking about Spartacus, a gladiator and greek leader of Thrace who led a slave revolution, thus, entering history.

His adventure began in Capua. There he attended the gladiator school, and from there he escaped in 73 BC with 70 other gladiators like him, of which he became the leader. Others then joined them: their shelter was the Vesuvius, where they returned to hide after countless victories thanks to their prowess and style of combat for which they were trained.

Spartacus was forced to flee to Calabria with his gladiators and was eventually beaten by two armies from Rome and Puglia, led by Crassus. He was killed, but no one ever found his corps. Another 6,000 rebels were crucified along the Via Appia leading to Rome, a reminder of their insane revolt.

A visit to Capua, today, allows you to relive the epic legend of Spartacus.

The journey starts from Santa Maria Capua Vetere, ancient Capua, more precisely from the Amphitheater of Campania. Second-largest after the Colosseum, built between the end of the first and the beginning of the second century A.D., this was the place where the gladiator shows were performed. An imposing monument: four rows of bleachers and 240 busts of gods, some still in their original location.

In its immediate vicinity stands the Museum of the Gladiators, where you can relive the life of Spartacus and his companions, reconstructed using ceramics, fragments of sculptures and plaster casts of gladiatorial weapons found there and in Pompeii.

In the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Capua, however, the oldest archaeological finds are displayed in twelve rooms, with explanatory panels and captions that help visitors to retrace the history of the area starting from the first millennium B.C.

A stop in the restaurant before the Amphitheater will allow visitors to enjoy the excellent local products, but if you have time, we recommend a visit to the neighboring production sites, to appreciate the special care put in organic and natural farming.

Also not to be missed if you have the opportunity, a stop in nearby Caserta, to admire the Royal Palace and its gardens.

For those who wish to enjoy a longer visit and a "Slow Foot" journey of several days (at least 4), we point out the ancient Via Appia: two thousand years old, passing through Capua, which led and still leads to Rome. Some stretches of the old road are still visible and can be covered on foot: an intense emotion.