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Terme Taurine is a very attractive archaeological site situated on a hill, surrounded by greenery 5 km from the centre of Civitavecchia - built by Roman emperor Trajan and is one of the most important Roman bath complexes of southern Etruria extending over 2 hectares.
The name comes from the Latin word: Taurus – meaning Bull. In fact the baths are mentioned in the diary of poet Claudio Rutilio Namaziano (416 AD) referring to a legend stating that a bull (probably a pagan deity of sorts) abraded the ground before starting a fight, which caused a well of hot sulphurous water to spring forth from the ground, although, legends aside, it is more likely that the name comes from the proximity to the ancient lake of Aquae Tauri, and its springs on the slopes near Tolfa, a short distance away.
Studies suggest that the complex already existed - built by the Etruscans, albeit a rudimentary version - which was later developed by the Romans. Thus indicating that Etruscans were well aware of the water's healing and therapeutic properties. For the Romans, the baths were also used for social gatherings and were greatly frequented throughout the Imperial Age to the decline of the Empire by the upper classes and ordinary people alike. Roman soldiers returning from war would come to the baths to help cure their battle wounds.
Eventually the baths were completely abandoned during the war between the Goths and Byzantines. It was only in the last half of the 1900’s that various projects were initiated to restore the baths but which, sadly, were never brought to completion.
The site is divided into two main areas: the Republican (I century BC) and the Imperial (II century AD). Among the ruins one can clearly see where the pools and other rooms would have been – although water is no longer a feature here - and one needs a little imagination to picture the beautiful friezes and mosaics that would have adorned the complex. The spa would have been equipped with all the mod-cons of the era such as changing rooms (apodyterium), small bedrooms (cubicola), pools for the elderly and children (caldarium), cold water pools (frigidarium), and a Turkish bath (tepidarium) which was equipped with a movable dome to cool the environment. Aside from the ‘wet’ areas there were many other services and public facilities inside the complex such as a library and a gymnasium.
Today the park has a delightful botanical garden (Horti Traianei), which you can stroll through....admire the beautiful variety of flowers and characteristic trees, and breathe in the wonderful aromas and perfumes of the same varieties of plants and herbs that would have been used back in the day.
Driving from Rome, take A12 (E80) towards Civitavecchia, exit "Civitavecchia Nord"; turn left at the junction towards Tolfa (SP 7b), arriving at the Terme Taurine after about 1 km (with ample parking space).
The bus is 'Linea B' and runs 3 times per day - 9.10 am, 11.10 am, 12.10 pm - departing from Civitavecchia Train Station and passing through 'Largo della Pace'.
There is a bus service from Civitavecchia town to the complex but we are told that it is not reliable even though the route should take only about 15 minutes.
Better to check out local taxi companies who can take you and agree to wait to take you back.
We really enjoyed out visit here earlier in the year. Unfortunately the custodian/guide only speaks a little English but there are various websites that can give you enough information to enjoy the Baths nevertheless and the setting, as you can see, is beautiful.
This is not a busy tourist site at all so you will most likely have the place to yourselves. Most recent entrance fee was €8 for adults. The complex is open in the mornings only.