One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Day 15- The Appian Way

“All roads lead to Rome”. In ancient times, they did. The very first and longest road built by the Romans was in 300BC, called the Appian Way. Much like our modern interstate system was built to quickly mobilize troops and military vehicles, this was the basis for the Appian Way. The Roman troops fighting the Samnites in the south around 300BC needed supplies and Rome needed a quick way to deploy troops should new uprisings in the south occur again. Between Rome and the south lied the Pontine Marshes which were wet and infested with malaria. No one liked crossing the marshes and it was a hinderance to troop and supply movement.

It is also said according to the bible this is the road St. Peter was travelling to escape the persecution of Emporer Nero when he saw a vision of Jesus. He asked,”Where are you going?”. “To be crucified anew” which convinced St Peter to return to Rome to face his own martyrdom.  

Today the oldest sections of the road have large stones laid together that would had a smooth like cement over them which has now eroded away. Writings say that the surface was so smooth you couldn’t see the joints at all. They raised the center of the road for runoff and had drainage ditches running along both sides. 

The Appian Way didn’t even become a preserved park until 1988. Although, various people and groups have worked to protect and conserve it for hundreds of years. Pope Puis VI ordered the conservation of the road in the 1500s

The road is dotted with monuments and mausoleums that have been reconstructed as best a possible from ruins found along the road.  

To think that we were walking the same stretch of road travelled by the Roman armies for almost a thousand years, the same road 6000 slaves were crucified on as a warning to all of the other slaves of Rome during the Dlave Uprising of 73BC led by Spartacus. The same road as St. Peter, thr same road antiquities from Egypt would have been transported on after the defeat of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, the same road as allied and German troops in Word War II as they fought in the area for 4 months…. It gives you chills and really does make you realize how small and insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things. 

A dog keeping watch from his 15ft high patio over the road.    

A guy at Capo di Bovi, excavated baths and villa along the road, gave Norah a pomegranate out of one of the trees.     

We stopped and got lunch from Cafe Appia Antica which was the first thing we found in our way towards Rome along the road.  

Norah ate her pomegranate.    

Artsy upside down trees by Norah.

Cat. By Norah.    
    The Circus of Maxentius. A compound of Ancient Rome. There were chariot races through this field at one point in time.
Sketch of what it looked like back at its height. 

 The Church of San Sebastino supposedly marks the spot where St Peter had his vision and the catacombs there supposedly are very big, but they are closed for the month.    
So many beautiful views and awesome history. We walked until I couldn’t walk any more.   I wanted to walk more… But my feet were screaming at me after about 7 miles over these big rocks in ballet flats 🙂 (in my defense, I planned on renting bicycles and just cycling 10 miles or so of the road but the closest bike rental station was at the Cafe which was less than a mile from where we ended and turned around.)

We got back to the apartment and decided to try to order pizza since the host had left a brochure for us and we needed to pack everything for our flight tomorro.

I managed to struggle through a pizza delivery in mostly Italian and our pizza showed up right on time.  

We packed our suitcases, cleaned out bags, booked our taxi for the morning and drank that 14 year old bottle of Montepulciano. Truth be told- it was good but I would take a 3 year old bottle of Fratelli Parrata from Paso Robles any day of the week 🙂

I’ll do one more post tomorrow as a trip wrap up. Thanks for reading about our trip!


  1. Lyla McGlinchey

    Wonderful pics and educating monologue. Thanks for letting us travel vicariously. Safe travels home.

    • Erin McKinney

      Oh thank you! I enjoyed writing it 🙂 late night typos and all haha

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