By Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 14, 2020
The clock tower with the Capitoline She-Wolf, donated by the city of Rome in 1919 at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. The Capitoline She-Wolf has been a symbol of Rome since ancient times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
Ruins of Roman houses at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. There were about 34 rooms, many being large boardrooms with mosaic floors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell)
Sepolcreto, the burial grounds at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. This site contains five funerary enclosures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
A baptistery at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. This baptistery was created by Bishop Cromatius at the end of the fourth century. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
Inscription mosaic at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. This inscription is celebrating the constructor of the building, Bishop Theodore. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
Inside the Patriarchal Basilica at Aquileia, Italy, July 25, 2020. The basilica was first built some time in 313 AD and was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times during its lifetime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
Aquileia was easily one of the most beautiful locations I have ever experienced. It was an easy hour and a half drive there with plenty of parking.
Even before I got to the parking lot, there were the Roman Forum ruins in sight. The Roman Forum was nearly at the center of the old town. This was only a taste of how fascinating the town is. After parking in the public parking lot and paying the meter for parking time, the tourist information store was across the road. It was closed for lunch by the time I got there but it has great information on the town and where you should go.
My first stop was the Fondo CAL. Fondo CAL is the remains of a domus, an upper class house and it also contained an oratory. The oratory is the first glance at the beautiful mosaic that was created. I was able to walk right in the middle of the houses and get an up-close view of their foundations.
After walking around the houses, the exit of the site brings you by a street that leads to the clock tower. As you walk down the street leading to the clock tower, that is all you can see. It is a picturesque scene. Then when you get close enough, the Patriarchal Basilica looms into view. It is breath taking. The basilica has a complex history. It was built around 313 AD. Over many years, the basilica was destroyed and rebuilt. Every time it was rebuilt there were new layers added and eventually the mosaic was covered up. A leak in the basilica was the reason the mosaic was discovered. You can purchase tickets to see the mosaic and interworkings of the basilica. Inside the basilica, you can walk over the mosaic and then also get to see the reliquary where remains of people are still being held but don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing.
Once I was done touring the basilica, I went straight into the baptistery. This was created in the fourth century and was founded by Bishop Cromatius. Unfortunately, the ceiling is not the original one. It collapsed in 1790. Next to the baptistery is the Südhalle. It is assumed this was used to educate people but the building was destroyed by a fire. The mosaic that survived is still available to see. There are also six sarcophaguses that are in the room for protection.
I did end up walking past the Archaeological Museum and Lapidary Galleries but not going in. The museum was under construction to be refurbished and reorganized. Next time!
I walked around the town a little to see the rest of the ruins and to see as many sites as possible. I missed the river port but was able to see the Fondo Pasqualis and the Sepolcreto or burial ground. Out of the two, the Sepolcreto was the most fascinating to me. Seeing how they buried their dead and how ornate the sarcophaguses were (to show the person’s economic stance within the society) was very interesting.
There are many sites I still missed in Aquileia but I plan on returning to visit the museum and other spots. It quickly became one of my favorite places to visit.