Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rome off the tourist track - Via Appia Antica (Appian Way)

I will have to post about Orvieto next week. There are too many photos to go through.

A few Sundays ago I took a nice long walk along Via Appia Antica.

On Sundays the ancient road is closed to all non-local traffic.

The road was started in 312 BC. It was the funeral route for Emperor Augustus in AD 14 and St. Paul was lead to Rome as a prison on this road in AD 56.

This is the longest straight road in Europe over 62 km. It travels all the way down to Brindisi. It was the Roman's gateway to the eastern part of their empire. The road was an engineering marvel back in the day. I read the stones were laid so well and tightly, the blade of a knife couldn’t fit in between the stones.

The oldest part of the road (the section closest to Rome) contains a vast network of catacombs. The Catacombs of San Callisto is one of the largest. It has over 12.5 miles of tunnels that used to be filled with the remains of Popes, martyrs and thousands of early Christians. Not sure how many bodies are still there. Some like Saint Cecilia, were moved to churches. There is also a Jewish catacomb. I would like to go back with a friend and check them out. I’d rather not go by myself as I don’t like being in underground burial places. ha

The road has is lined with some very interesting ruins. You can try to imagine the large tombs and mausoleums built by wealthy Roman along the road. The Goths, Normans and various Popes took statues and any piece of marble they could get their hands on.

I went super early before it became too hot. At one point I heard roosters and it was hard to believe I was only a few miles from my apartment. There are gorgeous villas, and the views are fantastic.

My round trip took four hours and I was very hungry when I got home. I misjudged the distance between the gate to the National Park and the beginning to the old road. Oh well, I had a good work out that morning.

There is a bus that will drop you off pretty close to the beginning of Via Appia. In the same area, you can rent bikes and there’s a little cafĂ©. Here is more info on the road including directions.

More photos on my Flickr page

Ruins of the San Nicola Church


The road. There are some sections that still have the original ancient Roman stones. I have a picture on my Flickr page.


I noticed these doors from the ruins of a villa. Did Coco Chanel have a relative that lived here or something?


One of the tombs that line the road. Some of the ruins are just mounds of bricks after being picked over. This one is in pretty good shape.

10 comments:

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Isn't it crazy hot down there? I don't know if I could face a walk like that in the heat. I loved doing that kind of thing in the fall and winter when I lived in Rome. Now I'm getting nostalgic!

Italianissima said...

I love seeing Rome (and Italy) through your eyes. It makes it a little easier for me to live vicariously through your posts since I have no idea when I will be able to get back...sigh...thanks for keeping me connected to this bel paese!!!

missexpatria said...

Oh, my Appia! LOVE IT. These pictures are great.

Los Angelista said...

That's absolutely lovely. So nice that you're able to walk around and experience so much history.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. I can hardly wait to hear your thoughts about Orvieto. It was one of my top three favorite places that I visited in Italy. Just getting there was an experience in itself.

Ms. ATL

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

joanna - I went on a day that was not too bad and very early in the morning. The heat just came back last week. It's so humid now. Me no like.

itlianissima - you're welcome.

missexpatria - thank you. I will go back once the weather cools off again.

los angelista - it's a trip to live in a place that is so old after living in L.A. for 10 years.

ms. atl - Orvieto was lovely. I took too many photos and need to edit before I post.

Fly Brother said...

Wow...cool that you get to traipse around all the places my students are reading about in their lit books (we're about to plunge into "Julius Caesar"). I'm bout to have to let them have their books and hit the Appian Way in person.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

flybrother - The amount of history here is just staggering, almost overwhelming.

Petulia said...

Hey-
you should come on one of our walks one day. Let me know if you have time for a coffee one of these days. I can tell you more about our program, if you are interested.
buon compleanno (anche se in ritardo)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

petulia - thanks for the birthday wishes. I would love to hear more about your program. If you go to my flickr page (reachable via my blog) you can send me an email that way.