The Roman World beyond Italy

France, In Our Suitcases, Italy, Travel

Traveling has brought us to many corners of the world — and one group of people keep popping up: the Romans. At its height, the Roman Empire was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization. Subscribe to our Big & Small Travel Youtube to watch our adventures in Rome and more.

 

They ended up leaving their mark in places well beyond modern Italy, including England, France, Croatia, Spain, and Germany. Before heading on our Roman photo journey, take a look at the Roman Empire’s domination in 117 AD:

empire

The Roman Empire in AD 117, at its greatest extent with its full kingdom in red and pink.

Here are our top 5 spots to find a slice of Ancient Rome outside Rome itself.

  1. Bath, England – Roman Baths

    Roman-Bath

    The Roman Baths complex is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The temple was constructed by the Romans in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.

2. Segovia, Spain – Roman Aqueduct

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The Roman Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain, is one of the best-preserved elevated Roman aqueducts. It dates from AD 81-96.

3. Split, Croatia – Palace of Diocletian

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Croatia was ruled by the Romans for over five centuries. Big and Small are pictured here at the Palace of Diocletian, an ancient Roman palace built between 295 and 305 in Split, Croatia, by the emperor Diocletian as his place of retirement (he renounced the imperial crown in 305). You can also find the sixth largest Roman amphitheater, and one of the best preserved, further north, in Pula, Croatia.

4. Lyon, France – Theatres Romains

Theatres Romains, built around 15 BC by the Romans

Lyon, France, has the Theatres Romains, built around 15 BC by the Romans. This theater held an audience of 10,000. The Romans also held poetry readings and musical recitals in the smaller, adjacent odeon.

5. Trier, Germany – Porta Nigra

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Porta Nigra, Latin for Black Gate, is a well-preserved Roman gate in Trier, Germany. The gate was built in grey sandstone after 170. It was originally constructed of large blocks of light sandstone, but the darkening of its appearance by the Middle Ages led to the name Porta Nigra (its original name is unknown). By the mid-second century AD, Trier – then known as the Roman city of Augusta Treverorum – was fortified by a vast defensive wall. Porta Nigra is thought to have been constructed in the latter half of the second century, perhaps completed in 200 AD. It would have been one of four city gates.

Have you been to any of these Roman ruins? What other ones have you seen outside of Italy? Let us know by commenting below. And don’t miss Big and Small Travel running around Rome in this video below:

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A Day Trip to the Artsy Tuscan Town of Pietrasanta, Italy

Europe, Italy, Travel

Big & Small took the train up from Lucca to the chic Tuscan town of Pietrasanta to enjoy an artisanal chocolate festival and the opening of the stunning Roberto Barni exhibition. The Italian sculptor’s works were scattered around the main square (Piazza del Duomo) and the former 14th-century church of Sant’Agostino. To be honest, our main mission of the day was to snatch up a whole lot of handmade chocolate, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover such a charming artistic enclave full of trendy boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.

Here’s a look at our day and night (when the town really comes alive) in Pietrasanta.

Roberto Barni Exhibition in Sant'Agostino, December 2017

Roberto Barni Exhibition in Sant’Agostino, December 2017

Roberto Barni Exhibition in Sant'Agostino, December 2017

Roberto Barni Exhibition Outside Sant’Agostino, December 2017

Where's Big?

Where’s Big?

Balloon Lift Off

Balloon Lift Off

Yes, those are chocolate heels.

Yes, those are chocolate heels.

Cioccolato di Modica: Specialty chocolate from Sicily with an especially grainy texture that allows the cacao to bounce off every individual tastebud. Small highly recommends the 85% variety.

Cioccolato di Modica: Specialty chocolate from Sicily with an especially grainy texture that allows the cacao to bounce off every individual tastebud. Small highly recommends the 85% variety.

48 Hours in Lake Como on a Budget

Europe, Italy, Travel

On our busy tour around Northern Italy—which included Trieste, Venice, Bologna, Bergamo, Brescia, and Verona—Big & Small fell head over heels for the spectacular Lake Como. With its glistening waters rippling against the foothills of the Alps and its scenic towns colored by stacks of modest abodes and luxury villas, it’s hard not to fall in love. Even big-name celebrities like George Clooney and Madonna have been unable to resist its charms.

This kind of high-profile place can be intimidating for budget travelers, but Big & Small were able to keep costs low while taking in all the natural beauty and effortless elegance of this Italian gem—it just takes a little strategizing. Here, we offer some tips on how to enjoy a quick 48-hour trip to Lake Como on a budget. And click the video above for more information!

  1. Visit in the Low Season (Early Fall/Late Spring)

    Lakeside Views

We are total believers in low-season travel, which typically means fewer crowds and lower prices. We visited Lake Como in mid-September, an ideal time to capture some rays on the lake and take in all the lakeside attractions.

  1. Stay in the Town of Lecco

Lecco, Italy

Located on the south-eastern part of the lake, Lecco is in a strategic position. You can get there in under 40 minutes from Milan or Bergamo via train, and you can easily hop on a ferry to access other major towns along the lake. It’s a cool little city, too, with great shops and restaurants. We found a spacious AirBnB studio in Lecco, just a 2-minute walk from the lake, for about $65 (USD) per night. Check out the video to see what we got for this price!

  1. Bounce on the Lecco Trampolines!

Sure, you can take a nice jog lakeside, but how often can you find a trampoline with such a spectacular backdrop? We happened upon a small outdoor trampoline park, about a 5-minute walk north of the Lecco ferry terminal, and enjoyed 10 minutes of jump time for just €2 per person. It was a great adrenaline boost before our busy day on the lake.

  1. Skip the Car and Get Around Via Ferries and Trains

Forget the stress of navigating narrow, curvy roads (and fast Italian drivers!), and sit back and relax on a ferry or train. Lake Como is filled with cute towns to discover, many easily accessible without a car. Tip #5 below is our recommended day trip for hopping between two of the lake’s most popular villages.

  1. Take a Day Trip to Bellagio and Varenna

From Lecco, take a 90-minute ferry to Bellagio (€8,30). This posh town boasts world-class hotels and restaurants among its hidden alleys, cobbled stairways, and panoramic lake views. Schedule in a few hours to walk around the historical center and grab a panino or gelato. Here, you’ll find a few recommended walking tours through nearby mini-villages as well. From Bellagio, take a quick 15-minute ferry across the lake to Varenna (€4,60). Upon arrival, take a stroll along the shore-hugging path, part of the 6-km Greenway dei Patriarchi. When you’re ready to head back, make your way to the Varenna train station for a 25-minute train back to Lecco (€2,90). Transportation for the day totaled to just €15,80 per person (these prices are from September 2017).