MAY 04,2014 - MAY 04,2014 (1 DAYS)
Via Appia Antica - 1/2 day walk:
Start: Circo Massimo Metro station (line B, the BLUE line).
End: Bus 660, north to Tomb of Cecilia Metella in Via Appia Antica. Bus 660 bring you to (final stop) Colli Albani Metro station (line A, the RED line).
Distance: 5.4 km of easy walk. We make, in this trip, ONLY the very first kilometres of Via Appia - starting at urban Rome and ending at the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. Most of the way is on uncomfortable, pebbled ground which dictates slow, careful walk.
Time: allow 3-4 hours (excluding visits in the Catacombs).
Warning: Do this itinerary ONLY on Sundays. Walking along Via Appia Antica during weekdays might be VERY DANGEROUS. on week days the via Appia Antica between Porta San Sebastiano and Cecilia Metella is open to traffic and there is insufficient room for pedestrians.
From Circo Massimo or Porta Capena to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella and to Castello Caetani - the route is split into two sections:
The first (section 1A) is in urban Rome, outside the Park - from Circo Massimo to Porta San Sebastiano. The feeling in this section is like in other parts of Rome. To understand the close link between the monumental centre of Rome and the Appia Antica the ideal entrance to the Park is the ancient Porta Capena near Circo Massimo. Before arriving at Porta San Sebastiano - the ancient Porta Appia in the city walls built in the second half of the third century A.D. by the Emperor Aurelian - there existed (and still exists under the names of Via delle Terme di Caracalla and Via di Porta San Sebastiano) the initial stretch of the road, almost a mile long that, starting off from Porta Capena in the walls of the republic dating from the fourth century B.C., became incorporated in the city with the building of the Aurelian Walls.
The second inside the park (section 1B) - from San Sebastiano to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. Here, you are expected to feel like in an archeological site/park - more quiet, more pastoral, more green. During the weekdays (unrecommended) there is a heavy stream of traffic. But (sorry to say), also on Sundays there is a non-stop flow of vehicles. The noise of vehicles on a pebbled road is unpleasant. Along the second section - most of the way is without pavements ! In this section the walk winds its way around the perimeter walls of the suburban farmhouses. This is the "road through the vineyards" recorded on Giovanbattista Nolli's famous map in 748. The Park of the Appia Antica includes the first 16 Km of the ancient consular road (from Porta San Sebastiano to the intersection with Via Appia Nuova in Frattocchie). The Park of the Appia Antica has been declared protected since 1988.
How to get there Bus and Underground:
To reach the Park headquarters (and bicycle renting point) take bus lines number:
- 218 (starting every 20 min) from Piazza San Giovanni, it end the line in front of the church, Basilica San Giovanni. You can get there by Metro Line A, stop San Giovanni.
To reach further stops of Via Appia Antica in the Park:
From Termini - Metro Blue B Line to Circo Massimo, then Bus 118 or
- 118 (starting every 30-40 min) from Piazzale Ostiense outside the Metro Station Piramide Line B and get off at the stop "Appia Antica/Domine Quo Vadis" (note again: the 118 is only every 30-40 minutes and not reliable)
Or catch bus lines number 30, 160, 671, 714, or 715 that run along via Cristoforo Colombo, get off at the stop "Cristoforo Colombo/Bavastro". Cross the road and enter Circonvallazione Ardeatina.
To reach the valle della Caffarella
To reach the information point in Largo Tacchi Venturi take the underground line A (to the Colli Albani - Parco Appia Antica stop). The 765, 87 and 660 routes also run near here.
To the Aqueducts
The via Lemonia entrance is close to the Subaugusta underground station, on line A, and to the bus routes 557, 451, 503, 552, 558, 559, 590, 650, and 654.
To reach Tormarancia
The n°160 bus stops in Piazza Lante, the meeting point for guided visits. The 716 and 670 also stop near here.
By visiting this web site www.atac.roma.it you will be able to find all the information you need about public transport and with the 'find the line' function you can plan your route to reach the park.
Directions to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, Circus of Maxentius: they are served by the 660 bus.
To reach the catacombs of St. Callistus take the 218 or the 118 bus lines. To get to the catacombs of St. Sebastian, bus n° 660. For the catacombs of St. Domitilla, the 716.
Toilets: Park Headquarters (a light diversion from our route) and San Callisto catacombs.
Refreshments: San Sebastiano and San Callisto catacombs and sporadic bars along this section of Via Appia. We advise visitors to walk through the San Callisto catacombs, the entrance is at the crossroads between the via Appia Antica and via Ardeatina. Most of the essential facilities are here.
Wheelchair access: mission almost impossible along the second section.
Weather: NOT in rainy days NOR in hot days with temperatures above 27 - 28 degrees celsius.
Section 1A: from Porta Capena to Porta San Sebastaino. it starts from the central archeological zone, opposite the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) near the baths of Caracalla (where the ancient Porta Capena was) and ends in Porta San Sebastiano, where the Park of Via Appia starts. This is the urban stretch, outside the Park, into the walls. This stretch of the via Appia Antica is called the urban stretch because in ancient times it was part of the city, the starting point of the via Appia and via Latina. So, you understand that, the monuments described in this section are not at present in the Parco dell’Appia Antica, which starts at Porta S.Sebastiano. But, this section 1A should be considered as a whole and illustrated together as part of the Via Appia itself and, still, in the historic centre of Rome. Distance: 1.8 - 2.2 km. It goes, basically along two main roads: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla and Via di Porta San Sebastiano.
From Circo Massimo Metro station turn left, and, again left. You'll see brown signpost of Porta Capena.
Near the Baths of Caracalla:
Take the MIDDLE road (Viale delle Terme di Caracalla) when the Terme di Caracalla (Caracalla Baths) are on your right. Enter the back (free) area of the baths to get a glimpse of this impressive site (no need to enter with full payment...). Note: Combined ticket €6 including admission to the Baths of Caracalla, to the tomb of Cecilia Metella and to Villa dei Quintili (see later):
You arrive to a complex crossroads. Choose the middle one, slighting 45 degrees left, VIA DI PORTA SAN SEBASTIANO. The Via Antoniniana should be on your right, the Viale delle Terme di Caracalla should be also on your right and Piazzale Nuao Pobpilio and Via di Porta Latina on your left. The further you walk - you'll see the Via Appia Park headquarters on your right (toilets).
From here, you walk, all the time, direct, southward.
If you chose the right road - you should see, after 160 m. (2-3 minutes walk) the Chiesa (church) Cesareo in Palatio on your right:
300 m. further (4 minutes walk), on your left - the Tomb of the Scipios.
300 m. further, on your right Museu delle Mura (Museum of the Walls), Arch of Drusus and Porta San Sebastiano:
Look at the walls stretching to both sides of the imposing arch and gate:
Here starts Section 1B: Into the park, out of the walls. From Porta San Sebastiano to Cecilia Metella and Castello Caetani. It is more country landscape. Distance: 2.5 km. The Viale di Porta Ardeatina on your right. Viale delle Mura Latine - on your left. We pass under the gate and arch and face this fountain:
From Porta San Sebastiano, inside which is located the interesting Museum of the Walls, the road runs down slightly following the ancient Clivo di Marte thus called after the sanctuary arising there and of which a number of remains were recently unearthed.From here the name of the road changes to Via Appia Antica.
Immediately before the fly-over bridge, on the right, are the remains of a group of tombs dating to some time between the I century B.C. and the II century A.D., while in the modern wall we find inserted a copy of the small column marking mile I , with inscriptions of Vespasian and of Nerva (the original may be found on the balustrade of Piazza del Campidoglio).
First Milestone on the Appian way:
We cross Via Cilicia. On our left Il Vivaio Garden Centre (Via Appia 27) and on our right Information Centre and bicycles rental stall. Here we find the complex of the former Latin Paper-mill, now the Headquarters of the Appian Way Park Authority ( Via Appia Antica, 42 - ph. 065126314, 065130682 - www.parcoappiaantica.org) a visiting centre where it is possible to make use of numerous services (guided tours: toll free number 800028000). This Park, set up on the basis of a regional law in 1988, extends for about 3,500 hectares from Porta San Sebastiano to Boville, in the municipality of Marino. The Park comprises the first 11 miles of the Regina Viarum besides the Caffarella Valley and the area of the Aqueducts. The park is beautiful and the aqueducts are spectacular.
Before we are arriving to a fork of roads we see the Church of Domine Quo Vadis or Santa Maria in Palmis. A seventeenth-century reconstruction of a chapel erected in the IX century on the place where, according to tradition, Saint Peter escaping from Rome to avoid the persecutions of Nero, is said to have had a vision of Jesus who reprimanded him, inviting him to turn back. The "prints" of two feet on a marble slab in the centre of the church (copy of a relief to be found in the nearby basilica of San Sebastiano) are supposed to be the miraculous footprints of Our Lord: in fact this is a pagan ex voto for the successful undertaking of a journey. The alleded footprints of Jesus that St Peter saw on the Appian way after the dream that he had where he saw Jesus on the Appian Way and asked in Latin (shouldn't they be speaking Hebrew or Aramic?) Quo Vadis, Domine? Thus the name of the Church that marks the spot where it happened:
inside of the Church of Quo Vadis:
Almost in front of the church may be glimpsed, concealed by an old hostelry, the cement core of a cylindrical tomb (closed for restoration), surmounted by a small unfinished tower dating from the Middle Ages: this contains the Sepulchre (tomb) of Priscilla, wife of the powerful freedman of the Emperor Domitian, Flavio Abascanto.
Coming to a crossroad we take the left leg (Via Appia Antica) pointing to San Sebastaino Catacombs. The Via Ardeatina will be branching off the Appian way to the right after the crossroad.
After the crossroads with the Via Ardeatina, the Via Appia begins the straight route by means of which it arrives at the Alban Hills. A short distance further on, on the left, we find Via della Caffarella leading to the broad Valley of the Caffarella, of great natural and historic interest.
Caffarella Park: There are several entrances. After the Quo Vadis church take the narrow road that leads off the Appian Way to the left. After the San Sebastian catacombs take the Vicolo della Basilica opposite, turn right into Via Appia Pignatelli and then first left at Vicolo S. Urbano. Avoiding the Appian Way altogether take the Metro Line A to Colli Albani. The park is 500 m SW of the station.Caffarella Park is part of the larger Appia Antica park. It contains both a working farm and numerous Roman ruins, some quite well preserved. It is a great place for a stroll or cycle away from Rome’s traffic.
Further, on your left - Antica Hostaria dei Liberti. We continue walking southward and after 400 m. (passing Scuola Agraria on our right) we see, on our right the entrance to the San Callisto Catacombs Park - ever since the 3rd century the most important Christian burial place of Rome that housed many tombs of popes and martyrs. The park contains ALL facilities for the weary-legged hikers (WC, bar, fountains, green rest areas etc'). Open: 09.00-12.00, 14.00-17.00, Wednesdays - close. Admission: €6 and includes a guided tour in several languages.
Closeup of this building at SanCallist (St Callistus) with a Latin inscription about the holy martyrs on it:
St Callistus waiting area for entering the catacombs:
San Callisto Catacombs Park:
In the eastern corner of the San Callisto Park you find bus station of bus No. 218 arriving from/to San Giovanni in Laterano Metro station in Rome.
From the park you can take the asphalted path leading southward, parallel to the Via Appia Antica road. From the San Callisto Park entrance it is rather dangerous to walk along the Via Appia Antica road for a mile or so as it is narrow with lots of traffic. A more pleasant option is to walk parallel with the Via Appia along the above asphalted path and through the gardens of the San Callisto catacombs (except Wednesdays when they are closed). You can rejoin Via Appia at the third mile where, on the right, are the church and catacombs of St Sebastian (see below).
Further, south, one hundred metres beyond the crossroads with the Via Appia Pignatelli is the entrance to the Jewish Catacombs of Vigna Randanini. The catacomb can be visited by small groups of no more then twelve people on the first Monday of each month. As a custodian must be present to open the gates and accompany the visitors through the underground galleries, it is essential for groups to reserve well in advance; individuals can inquire about spaces available on already-scheduled tours. The proprietors of the Vigna Randanini organize a schedule of these public visits and can be contacted by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by fax (+39/06/68806897).
We pass, on our left, the Instiuto Salesiano San callisto (on the asphalted path parallel to Via Appia Antica) - before arriving to the cross-roads. After the subsequent cross-roads with Via delle Sette Chiese (on your right) we come to an open space on the left containing the column erected in 1852 in memory of the work of reinstatement of the Appian Way carried out by Luigi Canina at the order of Pope Pius IX. On the right is the Basilica of Saint Sebastian built at the beginning of the IV century but rebuilt in the XVII century. Earlier called Saints Peter and Paul (Memoria Apostolorum), after the IX century it was dedicated to the martyr buried in the adjacent catacombs to which access is had from the church. Open: 09:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00, closed Su and 15 Nov-15 Dec. Entrance to the catacombs, which are smaller than the others in the area, is to the right of the church entrance. The area where you buy tickets and wait for tours has a good display of sarcophagi from the catacombs. You can rent a bicycle at the catacombs for further exploration of the Appian Way. €8 for the catacombs.
The Catacombs of San Sebastiano were the first to be indicated using the generic expression deriving from the Greek Katà Kymbas, meaning "within the quarries" and which later gave rise to the name used to designate all underground cemeteries. First begun some time after the middle of the III century and thereafter considerably developed, these are the only ones which have always been accessible and frequented. Of the four levels of tunnels only the second can be visited. The church, built in the age of the Emperor Constantine, now appears as it did following the radical reorganization of the seventeenth century.
Some two hundred metres after San Sebastiano, on the left we find the ruins of the imperial residence / Villa of Maxentius.
On the first floor, partially hidden by a farmhouse built against it (now restored and destined to become a museum area), we find the mausoleum known as the Tomb of Romulus (Mausoleo di Romolo) from the name of the Emperor's son who was buried there in 309 A.D.
Set at the centre of an area surrounded by a four-sided arcade, the mausoleum consisted of a "rotunda" with cupola roof and preceded by a pronaos in all ways similar to the Pantheon. On the second storey we find the Circus, 250 metres long and 92 metres wide, delimited on the top side by two semi-cylindrical towers between which were located the twelve "pits" from which the racing chariots came out. In the centre of the area is the "peg" around which the chariots turned and on the curved side a triumphal arch. The steps accommodated 10,000 spectators. Beyond the Circus rose the Villa, which was directly connected to the imperial tribune in the Circus.
Underneath it and incorporated in it, we find an earlier villa dating from the II century, built in turn over one dating from late republican times.
Here starts a slight climb and we pass a nice tree-lined avenue.
On the top of the rise followed by the road immediately thereafter, stands the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, erected shortly after 50 B.C. for the daughter of Q. Cecilius Metellus Creticus, wife of Marcus Grassus, son of the triumvir colleague of Pompey and Caesar. Combined ticket €6 including admission to the tomb, to Villa dei Quintili and to the Baths of Caracalla.
Inside of The Tomb of Cecilia Metella:
It is of the type having a cylindrical body set on a square base. This cylinder, faced with marble and crowned with a marble frieze in relief with festoons between bucranes, is 11 metres high for 29.50 metres in diameter. Originally it probably ended in a conical structure or, more probably, in a mound of earth, and inside it contained the funerary cell that was closed on top by a cap vault. The Ghibelline battlements form part of a medieval supra-elevation while the tomb was transformed into a tower and included in a fortified quadrilateral that comprised the Appian Way. At the beginning of the XIV century, in the form of a corner "keep", it was incorporated in the Castello dei Caetani, which also comprised the Palazzo, built against the tomb: within its recently restored interior the materials collected from along the road at the beginning of the XX century are gathered, to form the primary nucleus of the "Appian Way Museum". Combined €6 ticket including admission to the villa, to Cecilia Metella and to the Baths of Caracalla. Open times: not reliable. Expect this site to be closed most of the time. Still under excavations.
Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella and the Castrum Caetani:
Also restored of late and open to visitors is the inside of the Tomb at whose underground level a spectacular lava flow dating back to 260,000 years ago may be seen.
On the other side of the road we find the little church of San Nicola, roofless, that is a rare example of the Gothic (Cistercian) style in Rome. The restoration is a co-operation project of Italy and Colombia. There is also a nice sculpture of Fanor Hernandez.
About 80 metres further on was the column marking mile III, while a portion of the original road paving is visible here with its great slabs of volcanic lava. After the crossroads with Via di Cecilia Metella (on your left), beyond the walls and enclosures of the villas built in the last few decades, we are confronted with the great ruin known as Torre di Capo di Bove - This is a recently opened archaeological site displaying the thermal baths of the villa of the wealthy Herod Atticus. FREE. Open:10:00-16:00, Su 10:00-18:00.
Some 200 metres further on, the remains of two tower sepulchres. After passing Casale Torlona (on a level with no. 240), the road finally runs freely flanked by pine and cypress trees with numerous remains of tombs now more easily accessible.
Via Appia Antica 228 - a pretty private property:
Retrace your steps and walk back to Via Appia 198. On your right (now, your face to the north !) there is a 660 mini-bus stop (every 20 minutes). Its final stop is in Colli Albani Metro station (line A, the RED line).
Parco degli Acquedotti (Aqueduct Park): between Via Appia Nuova and Via Lemonia. Your best conventional bet is taking the Metro Line A to station Giulio Agricola and head southwest on Viale Giulio Agricola toward Via Tuscolana, 400 m. Continue onto Piazza Aruleno Celio Sabino, 120 m. Turn left onto Via Lemonia. Walk in Via Lemonia until you see a path leading to the Park. Open all the time. This pleasant park contains very well-preserved ruins of two Roman impressive aqueducts. Gets crowded on Sundays but it is a very pleasant site (in nice weather) for hikers and joggers.