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 in his love of physical fitness, Hadrian’s Villa is a portrait of its owner! The Pecile is one example. While it got its name from a famous 5th century B.C. colonnade in Athens’ agora, Hadrian’s 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.” This was the ancient Roman equivalent of 2 miles or 3 kilometers. So, Hadrian’s Pecile was a grandiose architectural ode to physical fitness!
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 loft columns and lightweight concrete vault, can be seen in the photo.