The Appian Way (via Appia) was one of Ancient Rome’s most important roads, linking Rome too the port city of Brindisi, located in Italy’s “heel” and an important Adriatic Sea port during ancient times and still today.
The Appian Way, recently featured in a New York times article, served as a major highway throughout Italy, carrying travelers from Italy’s south to Rome, often calling the “Queen of the Roads.”
The Romans were adept at building these highways, which not only served economic interests of Rome but also their military interests. Highways were developed to allow the Roman armies to make speedy passage throughout Italy to respond to battles and incursions as needed. The economic advantages came later.
The Appian Way is probably best known due to the slave revolt of Spartacus in 73 BC. For two years, Spartacus lead a revolt of slaves in an effort to escape Italy. Finally captured in 71 BC, the Romans crucified the captured slaves all along the road all the way to Capua. The road is nowadays a fun place to explore, and it makes for a great day trip.
The Appian Way is easy to reach as it begins in Rome and runs for miles. Be careful though – there are two Appian Ways – the new one, Via Appia Nuova, and the ancient one, Via Appia Antica. You’ll probably be most interested in the ancient one, which has museums and archaeological ruins well worth your time. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as the ancient highway is cobblestone, very uneven, so if you’re unsteady on your feet, make sure you bring a cane or walking stick for assistance. Also be careful of traffic and bicyclists. The road is still open to most forms of transportation, although vehicle traffic tends to move slow due to the uneven and rough nature of the road.
Archaeologists and historical activists in Rome are trying to turn the Appian Way into a historical park and protect it from those who might exploit the land for commercial purposes. You can read more about that in the NY Times article.
The IV, V and VI mile of the ancient road houses some of the most interesting monuments and sites. More to come on reaching the monument, what to see/do, etc…