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Bill Thayer

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The Via Appia
from Rome to Fratocchie


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Looking NW, back towards Rome, near the end of the Fourth Mile.
The most prominent ruins you see are those of two unidentified "tower tombs".

When people talk of "the Appian Way", what we often mean, quite improperly, is the very first small stretch of it, about 9 Roman miles long (14 km), heading southeastwards out of Rome.

All the major roads out of the City were edged with tombs, accreting over a period of 600 years, but those along the Appia survived best because by and large Rome grew northwards and westwards. Various half-hearted attempts to protect the Appia have been made, starting in the late Middle Ages. None has succeeded. Time and human depredations continue, even in the late 20c, to erase the remains along the road.

What is left is still very evocative, however; and very quickly — within 3 or 4 km — traffic vanishes, whether vehicular or pedestrian. Even if you're only in Rome for a week, the Via Appia is well worth a full day's quiet walk. Bring a picnic lunch and more film than you think you'll need.

A piece of really good advice. If you can afford it, to start your walk, get a cab to take you to the church of Domine, Quo Vadis? and walk east from there. The section before that, from the Appian Gate to Quo Vadis, is extremely unpleasant — alternate whizzing cars and traffic jams of xylene-spewing tour buses on narrow bumpy pavement with essentially no sidewalk — and there is not much to see: it discourages many from continuing on to the wonderful part! See two consecutive entries (Oct. 19 and 20, 1997) of my diary for details: I've done the road both the right way and the wrong way.

This may eventually become a proper site with a clickmap indexing the major monuments: to my 1997 material I expect to be adding stuff from future trips of course. For now, here are links to some stray pages that belong to this stretch of the road but that I put online for some other reason.


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Page updated: 24 Apr 03