When we first started planning our trip to Seville, we thought we would take quite a few day trips to surrounding towns. As it turned out, we absolutely fell in love with Seville and didn’t want to leave. So, we didn’t take many day trips at all. However, the Roman ruins of Italica were only a short bus ride away (some websites even suggest walking, but we do not), so we did devote half a day to a visit.
Italica is said to be one of the first Roman settlements in Spain. It was founded in 206 BC to house wounded soldiers after a big battle. Apparently, the town became a pretty big deal in the Roman social structure and at least two Roman emperors called Italica home — Trajan (I had never heard of this guy and can’t tell you anything interesting about him) and Hadrian (of Hadrian’s Wall fame).
Italica started to decline sometime around the third century. Some people say it was due to unstable soil, causing the buildings to crack and the like. Others say a nearby river shifted course, causing Italica’s port to dry up. In any event, Italica was thereafter pillaged (right up until the early 1900’s) for building materials. So, there isn’t much left.
The main attraction is the 25,000 seat amphitheater. It was even used in some scenes from Games of Thrones. (It was the Dragon Pit, although I’ve read quite a bit of CGI was involved).
Another key attraction is the amazing murals that formed the floors of many of the buildings. They are pretty faded, but they must have been absolutely beautiful back in the day.
We would say Italica is an interesting half day trip (you can even see the remains of a group toilet!), but certainly not a “must do” when in Seville. Getting there couldn’t be easier. Walk to the Plaza de Armas bus station and get on a 170 bus going to Santiponce — we found they left about every half hour. Pay the driver (the fare was 1.60 Euros when we visited). Then, ride the bus about 45 minutes to the very last stop. You should be able to see Italica out of the left side of the bus just before the stop — don’t get off before then like some people on our bus did because then you will have to walk a decent distance. On the return, pick up the bus on the other side of the street. See? Easy-peasy.