The Via Appia Antica is one of the most historic locations in the world, and yet many tourists to Rome, Italy don’t even know about it. Here are our tips on how to get there and what to do once you are there.
When they say “All Roads Lead to Rome,” the Via Appia is one of the roads they were talking about. Via Appia Antica was one of the most strategic, and earliest, roads into Rome, bridging Brindisi in Southeast Italy to the city.
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The Appian Way was constructed in 312 B.C. — mainly as a way to transport troops and military supplies. And although the road was an important part of Rome’s history for thousands of years, it required restoration. In 1784 a second road was built (Via Appia Nuova), leaving the old road (Via Appia Antica) open to tourists.
Although cars can still drive on the road, only the first three miles has heavy traffic and it’s still fairly easy to walk along the Via Appia.
There are numerous tourist stops on the way, including churches and catacombs.
The road is not far from the other tourist destinations in Rome, but unless you are spending a day of it, it may be too far to walk. However, you can bike there or take a bus.
To get to Via Appia Antica by bus, you will want to find the 118 bus from Rome. The bus will drop you off at numerous stops along the road, and it makes getting there much easier than trying to navigate there yourself. The bus makes stops in front of popular tourist destinations, including the Colosseum.
Be warned that the bus route does not always follow their schedule, and it’s not clear where you should be picked up at. When we went, we ended up having to call an Uber after walking for three miles.
Although there has been a building ban implemented along the road, it hasn’t stopped growth. New homes and other buildings have been popping up on the sides of the road for the last 100 years.
Make sure to stop at any sites you can along the road, as there are many buildings and parks that lead to museums or other historical areas. As you’re walking, enjoy the scenery.
Some of the sites you can see on the Via Appia include:
- Porta Appia (Porta San Sebastiano), the gate of the Aurelian Walls
- Church of Domine Quo Vadis
- Tomb of Priscilla
- Catacomb of Callixtus
- Hypogeum of Vibia
- San Sebastiano fuori le mura
- Catacombs of St Sebastian
- Vigna Randanini Jewish catacombs
- Circus of Maxentius
- Roman baths of Capo di Bove
- Tomb of Hilarus Fuscus
- Villa dei Quintili
- Torre Selce, a 12th-century tower and a mausoleum from that is pre-12th century
- Minucia tomb
- Torre Selce
- Temple of Hercules
- Tres Tabernae
The current walkable area of Via Appia Antica is nearly 40 miles long — you can rent a bicycle to travel the whole thing, but know you may not get to the entire road unless you are spending at least a few days to do so.
We walked for a few hours and made it about three miles, which was more than enough to see plenty of churches, ruins, and catacombs.
It really is an important piece of history, and is worth every moment. When you are in Rome, make a priority of visiting the Appian Way.