Chapter 2

by Julia C.

Travel in ancient times


  • During the Republic (510-27 BC) and especially in the Imperial period, Romans travelled more than at any other time

  • The better-off classes travelled to the coast where they owned second homes in search of better temperatures (Apennines, Naples)

  • There were also trips for fun (Canope, Alexandria), for health or for cultural reasons.

  • It was the Romans who took the definitive step towards turning the use of mineral-medicinal waters into an activity which, in addition to being therapeutic, was also recreational and leisurely, and where the social differentiation and ostentation of a social class was already taking shape, which two thousand years later would be repeated throughout Europe

  • The exquisite baths of Nero, Agrippa, Vespasian, Titus, Aurelian and, above all, Caracalla, the ruins of which have survived to the present day, bear witness to the importance of spa baths as a predominant form of leisure in Roman civilisation.

  • In Rome, leisure did not only develop in terms of the phenomena that took place in the city, the centre of this civilisation, but there were also important advances in other phenomena that went beyond the city, towards the rural world and abroad, such as second homes and travel

  • For this to happen, it was necessary for a society to have achieved, within its ruling class, a certain capacity for the accumulation of surpluses that would allow full enjoyment of its leisure time

  • There would also be notable progress in the field of travel, thanks undoubtedly to the impetus given to road infrastructures, which in Rome would have its main exponent in the roads.

  • The trade routes that have existed since ancient times (indeed, ancient Egypt exploited them) are also of great importance, especially the routes to Africa and Asia, the best known of which were the Silk Road and the Spice Route.


Julia C.


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