Trip to Italy: in the footsteps of Spartacus

I’ve been thinking about this for months, but I only decided on the spur of the moment on Saturday night to go. No, I hadn’t been drinking heavily. It’s just that when writing about certain key stages in Spartacus’ story, I feel that I need to see the ground where, or near where it happened. I could write about the ludus and Vesuvius etc. in the first book with ease, because I have a good mind’s eye image of what they look like. But the ground near Modena (Mutina in ancient times) where Spartacus defeated the last Roman army that stood in in his way to the Alps, the place where he decided not to leave Italy, is hard to picture. So that’s going to be my first port of call. Then I’ll drive SE to ancient Picenum, the area around Ravenna, to find a spot where Spartacus could have defeated the combined armies of both consuls. Then back to the west coast, past Capua, to the ‘toe’ and ‘arch’ of ‘the boot’, and some of the sites there – where Spartacus tried to sail rafts to Sicily, and where Crassus had a ditch dug that blocked the slaves into the ‘toe’, and lastly, the possible site of the final battle, which Spartacus tragically lost.

It’s going to be a whistlestop tour – the entire length of Italy twice – in 6 days, but I imagine that it will also be a blast. If you have any amazing sites that you think I should include, please post here. (I will try to get to Pompeii and Herculaneum and Capri – but only if I have time! Oh, and Paestum.) I leave in two days…

Arrivaderci! (spelling?)


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  1. Posted 25 October 2011 at 19:59 | Permalink

    Have fun take pictures…

  2. John Salter
    Posted 26 October 2011 at 08:09 | Permalink

    Sounds like a fantastic trip Ben, it’s a beautiful country with a tremendous history, enjoy!

  3. Ben Kane
    Posted 26 October 2011 at 09:16 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: thanks! I was not pleased to hear that the Colosseum was flooded yesterday during heavy rain. I sincerely hope that the weather has improved by tomorrow…

  4. Ben Kane
    Posted 26 October 2011 at 09:16 | Permalink

    @John: cheers!

  5. Posted 26 October 2011 at 20:08 | Permalink

    I went to rome and saw the Colosseum a year ago, and in true roman fashion for offer oral gratification for a fee!! (charming looking fellow…not sure why he thought i might be a customer though…did make me think that Rome never changes). Hope they dry things out, they were not open when we went.

  6. Ben Kane
    Posted 27 October 2011 at 22:02 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: ye gods and little fishes. Rather you than me!

  7. PaulfromEboracum
    Posted 29 October 2011 at 04:53 | Permalink

    Hope the trip is enjoyable and fruitful and that you have no dodgy offers.

  8. Ben Kane
    Posted 31 October 2011 at 14:45 | Permalink

    @Paul: thanks! Having a great time. No dodgy offers so far, thank goodness!

  9. Gladiator
    Posted 2 November 2011 at 21:14 | Permalink

    Sounds great! Im tempted to go when im a bit older if I ever get the oppitunity, So much history, architecture and art, what more could you want ?

  10. Ben Kane
    Posted 2 November 2011 at 21:51 | Permalink

    @Gladiator: Italy is the most amazing place. Full of ruins and places to stay, with the most fantastic weather, food and drink. When I left today, it was 24 C, and weather for shorts. Came back to 12 C, wind and heavy rain. Yuk.

  11. John Salter
    Posted 3 November 2011 at 08:32 | Permalink

    Haha welcome back to the weather Ben! Hope you’ve got lot’s of nice pictures for us?

  12. Ben Kane
    Posted 6 November 2011 at 19:44 | Permalink

    @John: yes, but there was more mad weather in the north of Italy on Friday – flash floods wrecked the centre of Genoa. Weird. Apparently, it hadn’t rained at all over the summer, and then a month’s rainfall came down in one day. Tweeted some photos already, but I must put some up here too.

  13. John Salter
    Posted 8 November 2011 at 08:56 | Permalink

    Look forward to seeing them Ben. I’ve only been to Italy once when I went to Rome but hope to go again one day.

  14. Ben Kane
    Posted 14 November 2011 at 17:56 | Permalink

    @John: apologies for not getting this up sooner – or a story about what I did in Italy. Soon!

  15. djugo
    Posted 14 November 2011 at 21:30 | Permalink

    Well not arrivaderci but arrivederci!!! ehehehehe. Well in any case i’m an your italian fan and i hope to meet you in one of your next travels to italy, and i hope that this last travel was good for you. I think that in italy at the moment your last book isn’t still in the libraries..i can’t wait.


    p.s.: i’m sorry for my english,but i try in any case to you.

  16. John Salter
    Posted 15 November 2011 at 20:46 | Permalink

    Ben, no worries, look forward to seeing them.

  17. Ben Kane
    Posted 21 November 2011 at 16:05 | Permalink

    @djugo: your English is fine – far better than my Italian! Grazie for your email, and I’m so glad that you like my books.

  18. abyjjvv
    Posted 22 November 2011 at 15:38 | Permalink

    Hi Ben.

    thank goodness for authors like yours, Conn Iggulden, Michael Crithton and Alex Rutherford calibre. Since authors like Frank G Slaughter, Frank Yerby, Taylor Cadwell and James Clavell I believed that world literature had taken a great dip.
    I am also an ardent reader when my commitments permit especially when on vacation.
    I really enjoy your books as your well planned and informative story and you writing technique and language usage make it both extremely interesting and allows for reading it to flow.
    When will you second book in the “Hannibal” series be available. I can hardly wait. Kind regards. Aby

  19. Ben Kane
    Posted 23 November 2011 at 05:23 | Permalink

    @abyjjvv/Aby: Thanks for posting, and welcome to my website! I am humbled to be compared with such other august names. Thank you! I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed my books so much thus far. Sadly, Hannibal 2 (Legionary) won’t be out until early 2013. That’s because I have gone a bit crazy and written a Spartacus book, which comes out on January 19. You can pre-order it already on Amazon or Book Depository! A second Spartacus book comes out in mid August next year as well, and then it’s back to Hannibal. I hope that will keep you satisfied until then! Best wishes.

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