The drive from Merida to Seville was only 130 miles and since I did it without a break, I arrived at the site in time for an early lunch. Camping Villsom is a wooded site laid out on a red sandy ground, consequently the sand is easily transferred from shoes to car or caravan. It does however drain quickly after rain. There’s only the one toilet block to one side of the site which has obviously been refurbished to a quite high standard. The electric bollards are situated in the centre of the site, so some pitches will require an extra long mains lead.
The water points are very decoratively tiled illustrating the adventures of Don Quixote. However, without a useful length of hose, the taps are not Aquaroll friendly. The last time I was here – around five years ago, the site was without lights at night-time. Street lighting has now been installed. Camping Villsom seems to be the only site open in the winter months, consequently there is no ACSI discount and it is the most expensive site I’ve used on this present tour. For one person with car and caravan+electric the fee was €39.50 for two nights.
With water and electric connected, and a nice sunny afternoon ahead of me, I decided to drive back up the motorway for 16 miles to take a look at Italica. This is a large area where the Roman City of Italica once stood. For others wishing to visit this attraction it’s worth mentioning the fact that like most archaeological sites in Spain, the complex is closed on Mondays. Admission price is a modest €1.50, however I presented my EU passport, so I entered without charge. The modern town of Santiponce is built on just part of the ruins, so much of the excavations are in an area which has never been developed. The port and city of Italica was founded around 200 years BC and was the first Roman settlement to be built in the south of the Iberian Peninsular. It began life as a settlement for soldiers who had been wounded in battle against the Carthaginian Armies. Hadrian spent his childhood here whilst Trajan, another future Emperor was born in the city. When Hadrian became emperor much of the town was rebuilt with new temples and public buildings.
Although the house walls have long gone, the mosaic floors are left. Wide streets were laid out in a grid pattern which were paved. Curb stones gave a raised porticoed pavement along each side. Under the main streets is a system of arched drains to carry away household sewage. Also the town benefited from public toilets.
A water supply was brought to the city in aqueducts where it was stored in cisterns. Lead pipes fed water to various fountains and public bath houses in the town.
Just outside the city walls was the amphitheatre.
The one built at Italica had seats for 25000 spectators, making it almost as big as the Coliseum in Rome.
The arena floor had a basement beneath it which housed animals and other equipment used in the activities.
The city’s demise began from the 3rd century when the Guadalquivir river changed its course, leaving the city’s docking area silted up. At the same time the new, nearby city of Seville began to gather importance.
I had a long day planned so I made an early start by leaving the site by 8.40. I joined the commuter traffic heading up the motorway into the city centre. I found car parking impossible so I briefly parked illegally and went the 100 yards or so to grab a couple of pictures of the Plaza de Espania.
The complex was built in 1928/29 as part of the Spanish/American Exhibition. Unfortunately, the function wasn’t quite the success it had been hoped for because the financial depression in America coincided with the opening of the exhibition. With my pictures taken, I hurried back to the car and decided to head back to the motorway. This time the A4 for my next stop 25 miles away at the town of Carmona. I found a parking slot in a street close to the Alcazar. Being 11am, it was just about to open. The castle was started in the 7th Century as a Palace for the Islamic Governor of the district. It was extended and improved in the 14th Century by King Pedro 1st. Later still at the end of the 15th Century it was used by Ferdinand & Isabella. Being situated on the highest point, there is a wonderful view from the tower walls.
Knowing that it might be difficult to park, I decided to walk to some of the other buildings of interest. A few streets away I visited the Santa Clara Convent. The community was created in 1460 with one of the main benefactors being Beatriz, the Duchess of Arcos, the same benefactor that supported the convent at Tordillas. In present times, the nuns’ workshop specializes in the production of pastries.
From the convent I moved on a couple of streets and called in at the town museum where several rooms are given over to different periods throughout the ages. For a town which attracts visitors from all over the world, it’s a pity that descriptive notes are confined to just Spanish text. A few hundred yards down the road brought me to the Puerta de Córdoba, a huge triumphal arch built as one of four entrances to the town during the Roman period.
Over the years the appearance has changed with modifications being carried out. Originally it was built with a three arched entry but later, the two outer arches were built up. From this point, I turned about, walked the length of what used to be the Roman high street and arrived at the second entrance to the town, the Puerta de Sevilla. Although this is the site of the Roman entrance to the town, the building is from the Moorish times when the Alcaza was also built. It underwent major alterations in the 14th and 15th centuries.
It was at this point that I realized I hadn’t a clue how to get back to where I’d parked the car. I walked backwards and forwards trying to find streets that I thought would take me in the direction I needed to go. But to no avail. Eventually I decided I would have to return along the route taken from Puerta de Córdoba. I stopped once again to rest in the Plaza de San Fernando.
By following signs to the Museum and thence to the Convent, I began to recognize roads I’d walked along earlier in the day. One final bench on which to rest and I knew I would find the car just around the corner. Gratefully, I got in to have a late lunch. The time – just coming up to 4pm.
I’d had all the walking I needed for one day so just one more stop before heading for the motorway. This next one could be seen from the roadside –
the undeveloped site of the town’s Roman Arena.
Tomorrow is moving day again.
To read this blog with several more pictures see HERE