We had had enough of the crowds at the Forum and the Colosseum so it was time to find somewhere quieter. And the Appian Way was the ideal place: a shady cobbled avenue lined with the remains of Roman buildings.
All Roads Lead to Rome
Back in the 4th century BC it was true that all roads (Roman ones at least) led to Rome, and the Appian Way (more properly known as the Via Antica Appia) was no exception. Started in the middle of the 4thcentury and completed in 190 BC, it ran 350 miles from Rome to Brindisi, connecting the capital with the opposite coast and from there to the eastern part of the empire.
The first section of the road, leading away from the city, was the preserve of wealthy Roman citizens. They lived and died here; there were as many mausoleums as villas. It was also an important way in and out of the city and as you walk along you are reminded of the people who went this way before. The funeral procession of the Emperor Augustus passed along the Appian Way, and when St Paul was taken prisoner he was led down this road.
The Appian Way Today
The Appian Way begins at the Porta San Sebastiano, which is easily reached by bus. You can explore a number of sites along the route, including the catacombs and the Circus Maxentius, where chariot races were held. But for us the main pleasure was in walking along the peaceful old road, peering into the remains of houses and imagining the lives of the Roman citizens who once lived there.