Regina Viarum: Queen of Roads
Of all the great roads leading to Rome, the most important was La Via Appia Antica, or Appian Way. After careful restoration and preservation, today's visitors can walk the same path as ancient Romans, passing a variety of archeological treasures.
Established in 312 B.C., the Appia Antica began as a long, straight road extending south 132 miles from Rome to Capua, just outside Naples. Typically a journey lasted five or six days. Paved with large stones called basoli, the road was constructed to allow two carriages to cross on each side, while post-stations every few miles provided a place for travelers and their horses to rest. The Appia Antica was extended several times over the years and made a significant contribution to Roman trade, military conquests and culture.
With the many bike rental shops, Compass & Key attempted to traverse the road via bicycle, but quickly discovered that most cyclists must navigate the narrow, bumpy dirt path alongside the road rather than on the road itself. This was quite challenging. We would recommend walking the route as described in this itinerary. Guided tours are also available through Context Travel or the official Appia Antica Park website.
Access: Sundays are an ideal day to visit, when the road is closed to private vehicles. Some of the sites are closed on Mondays or Wednesdays. Opening days and times are noted in the guide, but please reconfirm before your visit.
Time: 3 hours including walking time and stops. To visit most of the Appia Antica as well as the aqueducts, plan on an entire day, and additional transport (bus, bicycle, car, etc) to get around.
Entry Fees: The main road and many of the sites are free. Entry fees required at the Catacombs of St. Callisto (€8), Catacombs of St. Sebastian (€8), Tomb of Cecilia Metella (€6) and Villa of the Quintili (€6).
Starting point: Porta San Sebastiano and its Museum, open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-2pm (free entry). From central Rome, take the 118 bus to reach the starting point and other parts of the Appia Antica.
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