We love history and yes, we’re a bit obsessed about the story of Spartacus and his army. So, before our trip to Italy we researched areas that we could visit to try and walk in his footsteps so to speak. In order to do this you will need to go off the beaten path.
It is quite impressive how far Spartacus and his army walked in Italy. We didn’t have time to go everywhere, but we did manage to see some cool areas and best of all spent under $50 (mostly transportation costs) to go off the beaten path.
Walking in the footsteps of Spartacus
- Visit Santa Maria Capua Vetere to see the second oldest ampitheatre
- Visit the Gladiator Museum
- Archaeological Museum & Mitreo
- Hike Mount Vesuvius
- Take a walk on Appian Way
How to (Kind of) Walk in Spartacus’ Footsteps
Santa Maria Capua Vetere
Santa Maria Capua Vetere was built on the ruins of ancient Capua. Not to be confused with the modern day Capua. These are two different towns. Kind of confusing, but keep that in mind when booking a train.
You can take the local train from Napoli Centrali to St. Maria Capua Vetere. The trains usually leave mid-morning and return in the afternoon or early evening. The train ride was 45 minutes from Napoli. The amphitheatre is closed on Mondays, so don’t visit on a Monday.
How to Get from the Train Station to the Amphitheatre
The amphitheatre is about a 20 to 30 minute walk from the train station. Map out where you are going before you begin because if you get lost you will not find many signs. The only person we came across that spoke a little English was the lady we purchased tickets from at the amphitheatre.
From the train station we walked straight and made a right at the first road. We followed this road to a piazza and then made a left. Just a short walk from here and you will see the amphitheatre to your right.
After you purchase your tickets in the cafe you can continue walking down the path to the small Gladiator Museum. The cost to enter was 2.50 euro. This fee includes the mitreo and the museum, so don’t throw away your ticket.
Visiting the Ampitheatre
You are walking in the footsteps of Spartacus and other gladiators when you enter the amphitheatre. The exterior is not as well preserved as the Colosseum in Rome.
Walking up to the stadium was like finding a hidden historical treasure. We were the only people there and the silence was almost deafening. Having the whole place to ourselves was relaxing compared to the Colosseum and made the experience even more special. Entering through the main entrance, we made our way down the narrow steps to the lower level.
The stairs led us to the lower level where the gladiators waited to enter the amphitheatre. Corridors lead you through the cavea.
Wild animals and actors also waited in the lower level. Walking underground one can imagine what is must have been like to sit in wait beneath the thousands of people above.
The seating area of the amphitheatre is not as well preserved as the Colosseum in Rome. Grass and weeds have grown over, but you still have a good idea the view spectators had.
After exploring the inside, we walked around the entire grounds to see the ruins from different views.
Walking back towards the train station the same way we came we used our tickets for entrance to the Archaeological Museum. The museum is about a block from the piazza.
Archaeological Museum & Mitreo
After you visit the museum ask the curator to see the Mitreo. They need to get a key. From the museum you will walk to the right at the next narrow street and then turn right again. The Mitreo is a place of worship for the Persian God, Mitra. The Mitreo dates back to the 2nd century A.D. It is one of the largest examples with painted decorations.
A visit to Santa Maria Capua Vetere was a great day trip from Napoli. Train cancellations happen. Just something to keep in mind if you visit. We almost missed the last train out of town.
Hike Mount Vesuvius Where Spartacus Once Took Refuge
Spartacus and his men took refuge in Mount Vesuvius. It was also the site of the first battle for the Third Servile War with Spartacus and his men against the Roman army in 73 BC. Years later Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying the city of Pompeii in AD 79.
Today, Mount Vesuvius is about 4,300 feet tall. To hike Mt. Vesuvius we caught a can catch a bus near the entrance of Pompeii. The bus ride is about an hour from Pompeii.
The bus from Pompeii will drop you off about 10 minute walk from the trail. We were told if you take the city bus it is an additional 20 minute up hill walk. The ride is not particularly exciting, but you can get a good view of Mount Vesuvius before you arrive.
There were porta potties and a small gift shop at the drop – off. The driver will let you know when your bus is leaving, so judge your hike time accordingly.
When you think you’ve reached the top, a sign will remind you that you haven’t reached it quite yet. The volcano is active and the smell of sulfur permeates the hike.
When you reach the top there is another souvenir shop. You can also order a glass of wine and take in the incredible view of Napoli and the coast.
If you are fan of Spartacus you will know that thousands of Spartacus’ men were crucified along the infamous Appian Way that connected Capua to Rome.
This is how we (kind of) walked in Spartacus’footsteps. It was an amazing journey.