The Appian Way or Via Appia Antica in Rome is ancient road that was built in 312 B.C. by Appius Claudius Caecus. It was the city’s gateway to the East that connected Rome with Capua. It stretched from the Roman Forum 400 miles to Brindisi, where ships sailed to Egypt and Greece and it served as a military and economic artery. Today, it is one of the best sites where to enjoy the sunny Roman day stepping back in time.
The Road named after Appius Claudius Caecus, who was the Roman censor that began and completed the first section of a military road in 312 B.C. The road was constructed for creating a fast communication between Rome and Capua, which is near Naples. The Appian Way began at the Circus Maximus and passed along the Baths of Caracalla, and eventually, the Aurelian Wall. Its distance was 132 miles and it took 5 to 6 days to pass it. Talking about the first line, it stretched for 30 miles between Rome and Terracina. Moreover, the Appian Way was revolutionary for that period of time and was the first Roman road to feature the use of lime cement.
The entire road is made of large slabs of stone
The part of the Appian Way is now called Via Sacra or Sacred Way, which begins at the Capitoline Hill. The road borders the Palatine and the Circus Maximus.
The crucifixion of Spartacus’ army
In ancient times, it was forbidden to bury the dead on the territory of Rome and they were buried along the roads out of the city. Famous people were buried in tombs for themselves or for the whole family. However, besides numerous tombs alongside the Appian Way, there are also monuments as the Christian Catacombs, the Temple of Hercules, the Church Quo Vadis (Saint Peter met Christ there), remains of the gothic Church of San Nicola and tombs of San Sebastian, San Domitilla, San Callixtus, and the tomb of Cecilia Metella. Moreover, the Circus Maxentius is near the tomb of Romulus, which is one of the most preserved Roman circuses. Gallenius and Geta Roman Emperors were buried there.
In 73 B.C., a slave revolt appeared against the Romans under the ex-gladiator Spartacus
He managed to defeat many Roman armies in two years conflict, but when he tried to escape, Spartacus moved his forces in the Apulia/Calabria trap and was pinned between Legions from the whole Empire. Romans considered his defeat as a loss of the right to life for the slaves. Later, in 71 B.C., 6 thousand slaves including Spartacus were crucified on the 200-kilometer of the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.
Below the Appian Way you can find miles of tunnels, known as catacombs, where early Christians were buried and during the times of persecution, hidden churches held services. The most famous of them are the Catacomb of Callixtus and Catacomb of Saint Sebastian.
Appian Way Regional Park
Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica or The Appian Way Regional Park is on Via Appia Antica and is an old huge park, owned by different individuals. This area is occupied by farmers whose income goes from agriculture. It is famous for its collection of ancient treasures, ruins, and archeological remains. Moreover, there are ancient churches and catacombs as the Catacombs of Annia Regilla and Tomba Tomba. Other famous sites are Villa dei Quintili, Caffarella Valley, Farnese, Tormacrancia, Circo di Massenzio, and Via Latina.
The park is around 3400 hectares and protected since 1988
There are bicycles available for rent and restaurants where you can stop for a lunch/dinner. Moreover, there are more than 70 kinds of animals in the park. Among them, you can meet rabbits, frogs, foxes, salamanders, turtles and other species.
How to get and Opening Hours
- Metro Stops: Coli Albani or Subaigusta
- Bus: Archeobus from Termini Station to Via Appia Antica that goes every 40 minutes
- Opening hours: October through March (winter season): 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
March through October (summer season): 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Via Latina Tombs
The Tombs of Via Latina are mainly from the 2nd century A.D. located along a stretch of the old Roman road of Via Latina, within the Regional Park. The tombs were discovered in 1857-58. Its excavations were maintained by Pope Pius IX.
The Caffarella Park is bordered on the northern side by the Via Latina and on the southern side by the Appian Way. It begins from the Aurellian Wall up to the Via del’Almone. There is a working farm with 78 species of birds and other animals. Herodes Atticus was a Greek who became a senator of Rome and married to Annia Regilla, acquired the land of a large estate known as the Triopius, which occupied much of the area. There you will find the tomb Annia Regilla and the Nympheum of Egeria.
The Parco degli Acquedotti is a public park of around 240 hectares. It is named after the aqueducts that split it, the Aqua Felix and the Aqua Claudia. Also, there you will find the remains of the Villa delle Vignacce.
Tor Fiscale Park
Six Roman aqueducts go to Rome through the Tor Fiscale Park. Over the centuries it was a popular encampment from armies that tried to invade Rome as it was on the Via Latina, very close to the Appian Way.
Villa of The Quintilii
The Villa of the Quintilii (Villa dei Quintili) is an ancient Roman villa, located on the fifth mile of the Appian Way. It was constructed by the brothers Sextus Quintilius Maximus and Sextus Quintilius Condianus during the 2nd century. Moreover, the villa contained a thermae fed by its own acqueduct and a hippodrome from the 4th century.
How to Get
It is quite easy to get to the Appian Way, using public transport. You need to:
- Take the Metro to the station Piramide
- Take a bus №118 from the station
- Your stop will be “Catacombs of San Callisto”
- From here you can walk, use bicycle or bike to drive miles along the ancient Roman highway
- Bike rental in Appia Antica Caffe: 9 am – to the sunset; On Monday 9 am – 1.30 pm
- Price: 3 Euro an hour or 15 Euro for the day
Moreover, there are many tour options available to the Appian Way.
Undoubtedly, it is worth to visit the Appian Way. The road is full of history and represents ancient times. It would be a great choice for a day-trip in the sunny weather, where to discover Roman ruins, monuments, and catacombs and to take beautiful photos.