Emperor Hadrian’s biographer from above continues, “He was tall, elegant… and his thick beard hid the battle scars on his face. From robust stock, he loved horseback riding, walking, swordplay, and javelin throwing.” Even Hadrian’s love of physical fitness shows up in his Villa! The Pecile is one example. While it got its name from a famous 5th century B.C. colonnade in Athens’ agora, Hadrian’s version was essentially an open-air track! How do we know? Near it, archeologists found a Latin inscription that stated, “the walk around the portico is 1450 feet, seven times around is 2030 steps.” 1450 feet was the ancient Roman equivalent of 2 miles or 3 kilometers. So, Hadrian’s Pecile was a grandiose imperial step counter!
Together with his Roman passion for physical fitness came a Greek obsession with spas. In fact, two spas (or baths) grace Hadran’s Villa. One of them, with its lofty columns, can be seen in the photo.