<p>(by Anto bozzini, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)</p>
  • Europe /
  • Italy /
  • Milan

A walk through the remains of the ancient Roman Empire

"Erculee" thermal baths
Original plan of the baths in superposition with today's map (by MacMoreno, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
"Mediolanum" digital reconstruction (Cristiano64Vectorization, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Original plan of the baths in superposition with today's map (by MacMoreno, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

As an additional example of roman relevance, it is possible to observe behind the Duomo the remains of the Herculean baths, dating back around the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, once the spa of the Romans of the time, unfortunately now almost an abandoned place unnoticed by citizens and walkers.

Precisely because of the state in which the findings present themselves to their observers today, it is possible to reflect on the evolution of time and the importance of handing down the past. It is not only the state of the findings and their preservation that matters but rather one’s desire to narrate the past and learn from it. By connecting the dots and understanding the past, our eyesight can immediately better experience the present. History becomes an opportunity to learn if only one has the will to do so.

By exploring this Roman reality, we can get a taste of the great Mediolanum. The traces, albeit limited as they are, give an idea of the city’s role in the empire. The glory of Mediolanum lasted for over two centuries, only to be interrupted by a slow decline with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE.

Today, the roman remains stand in memory of our ancestors, giving us relics and details needed to build their stories. It is precisely small finds that are often of great value. We are confronted with the eternity of a lost world whose appearance has been taken away by the ages. However, we still inherit its values thanks to the outstanding work of archaeologists and experts.

These efforts allow us to discover new identities and values of the place. By putting the pieces together, it is possible to build a unique and certainly more colourful image of a destination and better understand its value through history. This research and work process is often uncomprehended, but it helps to find beauty and new interests even when time and modernity seem to have erased all traces.

Milan is a city that cries out for rediscovery. Although its relatively small number of findings compared to other Roman settlements, Mediolanum still represents the heart of the empire. This tour aimed to place Milan in a different, more unique and unknown light, trying to show its explorers a very antique yet still alive legacy.


1. The mausoleum

2. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio

3. The Amphitheatre

4. The Columns of San Lorenzo

5. The Imperial Palace & the Circus

6. The theatre and the “forum”

7. Under the Duomo

8. "Erculee" thermal baths