The history that links the city of Termini Imerese to the Roman Empire starts with the victory of Romans in
Egadi islands in 241 B.C., against whom, until then, was dominating the island: Carthaginians. Under the
dominion of Roman Empire this city gained glory and fortune which led to the construction of some
buildings useful to their public lives, making this city the so called “Termini Romana”.
The Cornelio aqueduct
Let’s start by talking about this aqueduct which is, nowadays, the most undamaged monuments we have
here in Termini Imerese.
Acquae Corneliae Ductus was its original Latin name but nowadays it is known as Cornelio aqueduct which
probably derives from the name of the roman senator who commissioned its construction. Its main
function was to carry water from Brocato source for 8km to the centre of the city and this was its function
until the beginning of 800.
What is important to notice is the magnificence of this monument which underlines the great talent of the
Roman Empire. The double vault which survived through all these years can be seen from contrada
Its ancient pipes can be seen at Museo Civico, some of them made of ceramic and others of lead. Some
parts of it went lost during the Garibaldinian attack, indeed some of the lead used to build the pipes was
used afterwards to create new weapons to fight against the Bourbons.
The Roman amphitheater represented one of the most important signs of the Romans public life. Situated
in the city area called “Piano San Giovanni”, this monument with a seating capacity of four thousand people
was built around the I century A.C. Surrounded by 36 pillars creating a colonnade with two orders and
having the larger diameter of 87 meter while the smaller one of 58, this monument was one of the biggest
Sicilian amphitheaters following Siracusa and Catania.
In the area of Piano San Giovanni especially from the street and from the garden of Santa Chiara’s
monastery you can still admire what remains of this beautiful monument, while from the near “Piano
Barlaci” you can still admire rests of the podium and of the arena.
Today, unfortunately, you can not admire anything else because during 1500 in spite of being already
ruined, most of its parts and materials were used to build the castle and other noble mansions of the city.
Although we don’t know exactly when this monument was built we can assume that the time of its
construction was between the I century B.C. and the I century A.C.
There are a lot of theories about its function but what we believe could be the most suitable function is its being a city palace and justice administration headquarters, for which the largest room with its apsidal wall was the one used for trials while the two front rooms were used as offices.
Civic Museum Baldassare Romano
Its structure doesn’t belong to the tour in our Termini Romana since this Museum was built in 1700, except
for the tower which is adjacent to the “San Michele Arcangelo” chapel.
This museum, which was one of the most precious of this Island, contains several artifacts such as:
Terracotte which are categorized and datable between the III century B.C. and the I century A.C.;
Architectural cornices datable around I century A.C. coming from public buildings; Pipes made of terracotta
and some made of lead belonging to the aqueduct we have talked about earlier; sculptures of portrait.
Among them we have a shod foot which was part of a colossal statue datable to the Augustan age and also
the face of Agrippina the Elder. Numerous are the epigraphs among which we have the first ever saying the
word “Splendidissima” datable back to III-IV century A.C.
The Hot Baths
Situated in the lower part of the town, at the foot of “serpentina”, thermal baths face the homonymous
square and are lined by the great “Hotel delle Terme”. Its current structure belongs to early years ‘800,
made by the architect Alessandro Emanuela Marvuglia, who designed the reconstruction of the building on
the commission of Francesco I Borbone.
The story behind these thermal baths was told by different authors, both through myth, as in the case of
Diodoro Siculo who, in the fourth book of his tales, he relates that Ercole, through his efforts, reached
Thermae Himerenses where, Athena wanted nymphs to prepare hot baths to relieve Ercole’s fatigue;
thermal baths’ story was also told outside myth, this city was described by the geographer Strabone and
also by Pindar who, back in the ‘400 century B.C., started telling the victories of Ergotele, mentioning the
The picture shows its façade which, as we already said, was built in the early years ‘800. In red we can see
its ancient structure covered by a barrel vault. As discovered later, the inside seemed addressed to host a
tank of cold water. Near its circular structure, during the construction of the Hotel delle Terme, have been
discovered other areas belonging to the ancient Roman structure among which we have to remember the
so called “bagno delle donne”(LT women’s bathroom), rectangular shaped building which is no longer
visible due to the construction of the Grand Hotel.
Fun fact: one of the very first graphic reconstructions of this roman building is the one belonging to the
French architect Jean Pierre Houel, which dates back to the end of the years ‘700. He was so involved and
interested by roman monuments present in Termini Imerese that he built the relief of the thermal baths
which is nowadays preserved at the Hermitage museum of San Pietroburgo.
- “A Spasso con Stenio” di Manuela Sinatra e Barbara Indorante
- “Termini Imerese Città Romana; Itinerario Archeologico” di Roberto Tedesco
Immagini: Gentilmente donate da Roberto Tedesco
Revisione: Gentilmente effettuata da Manuela Sinatra
Traduzione: Gentilmente realizzata da Giulia Catanzaro
di Francesco Marramaldo