Everyone knows the saying that many ways lead to Rome. And it has it’s historical meaning indeed. The Via Appia Antica is probably the oldest street in the world. What I really love about Rome is that you can learn about Roman culture and history in praxis instead of sticking to history books. It’s a pity that you won’t see the Via Appia Antica on so many postcards and pictures like the Colosseum, the Forum Romanum or Trevi Fountain. Maybe it’s because this is not the first picture of Rome that will come on your mind when planning a trip to this lovely city. But believe me if you want to recover from all the masses of tourists at the sights and the restaurants and souvenir sellers in the city centre of Rome the Via Appia Antica is the best destination. And the best thing is that it’s not that far away from the Colosseum and you can go there by bus within 20 or 30 minutes.
The history of the Via Appia Antica
The Via Appia Antica is 62 kilometres long and connects Rome with Brindisi. It has been built in 312 before Christ and is named after Appius Claudius Caecus who was its main architect. Originally the Via Appia Antica was 195 kilometres long and was the most important street for the trade and the transit of goods in the former Roman Empire. In the past it received the Latin name Regina Viarum which means the queen of all ways. On the picture of this article you can see the oldest part of the Via Appia Antica which is only for pedestrians and cyclists. You won’t see any traffic and cars there.
As you can see you will find some really interesting testimonies to the culture of the former Roman Empire. And believe me you will find things like that in every corner in Rome. There’s much more than you will find in any guide book.
The Via Appia Antica today
If you are planning to go by bus to the Via Appia Antica you will probably arrive at the bus stop on the road parallel to the Via Appia Antica. From there you will have to walk a few minutes until you reach it. The probably most surprising fact about the Via Appia Antica is that there are people living like anywhere else. Imagine you live in such a historically important place! And there are also tombs on the edge of the Via Appia Antica as in the past after the Roman law it was forbidden to bury dead people next to the housing estate. For tourists coming to Rome the Via Appia Antica offers the opportunity to rent a bike or simply to enjoy the silence beyond the usual touristic places. And the view is really splendid especially when you come here in spring or in late summer when the wheather is still great. However I must admit that I really wondered how on earth people can rent a bike and ride over this stony street. Personally I prefered to go for a walk and enjoy the view. This picture here is only one such example of many beautiful and splendid landscapes that you will find around the Via Appia Antica outside of Rome.
And for polyglots and those of you who came to Rome to improve their language skills of Italian the Via Appia Antica in my opinion is the best place in Rome to talk to the local people. I must admit that I was really disappointed as there are many people in Rome city who answer you in really bad English when you start a conversation in Italian instead of appreciating your attempts to learn their language. Furthermore there are many people around the most touristic places coming from countries all over over the world and they often don’t speak a word Italian. Perhaps these people don’t even know this part of Rome and this might be the reason why you will find so few Information about it in many guide books.
I hope that I introduced something new to you and that I could show you that Rome is much more than only the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. Many ways lead to Rome and so there are many sights that can tell you some interesting facts about the culture and history of the former Roman Empire!