Il Parco degli acquedotti (http://www.parcoappiaantica.it) in Rome is a wonderful part of Rome that highlights best the grandeur that was once Rome! Now the land that surrounds is farmed and used for graizing, and you can observe much of this while enjoying the remains of Rome”s past before you. Many runners and outdoors enthusiasts can be seen jogging and walking along the remains.
The aqueducts are symbols of power and knowledge as we imagine how much manpower went into constructing them — from the engineers that designed and managed the operations to the slave labor that built them. Water is the lifeblood of any city and is needed not only to keep the population alive but also help to keep the city clean of disease, to help rid the city of human waste, and served as a way of controlling the populace. If there were any two things in Ancient Rome that could incite a riot, it would be the water supply and the grain supply! Keep the city plentiful of both, and you’ll have a happy populace.
The park is a symbol of all of this, but it is also a testament to the power that was Rome. The aqueducts are immense – let’s face it, you could not hide them even if you wanted. An empire such as Rome needed to have considerable control of surrounding areas to ensure that bandits and enemy armies would not destroy them where they stood. A break anywhere along the line would stop the flow of water entering the city.
The aqueducts were also used by the Popes of Rome as evidenced by the remains of the Aqua Felice (named after Pope Sixtus V) for much the same reasons that they were adopted by the Ancient Romans. While the repaired aqueduct brought water into the city, the Popes of the city used the water brought in from the aqueducts to power fountains and water attractions through many piazzas and villas in the city.
The park is easy to reach: take linea A to Giulio Agricola, and the aqueducts are just a short walk away. There’s no charge to enter the park. It’s best to schedule your visits during the morning (after 9:00 AM) and before dusk.
For your information…
To see some excellent photos of the aqueducts, check out this Flickr page. The English entry in Wikipedia is a good place to start if you want to learn more about the park. The park’s web site (which is part of the Appian Way) has some maps, itineraries and other information (in Italian) that might be useful (see entry #6).