Sunday, April 29, 2018

Via Appia Antica

On our 4th day in Rome, still struggling with the jet lag, we finally ventured out beyond the local supermercados and such. A veteran of four years of Latin (Vicki had two), first with Mr. Scott and then mostly with Mrs. Henry, and then listening rapturously to Respighi's Pines of Rome, and especially its "Pines of the Appian Way" (the Toscanini version always the best) from the 11th grade on (thank you, Rev. Bragg), I was keen to march a few miles along the Appian Way, the Via Appia Antica. The roadway is 2,300 years old, paved over innumerable times, no doubt, but still sports the incredible assortment of shrines, churches, tombs, catacombs, and such that make it famous, even in our day. It was the first Roman highway, "the queen of the long roads," enabling the legions to march south in a hurry if needed, begun in 312 BC and named for its founder, the Censor and later Consul Appius Claudius Caecus. On Sundays, the City of Rome limits motorized traffic to just residents and tour buses, and one can walk the Way some distance. Our fatigue and the heat of the day limited us to just the first three miles. Alas, beyond that point, the traffic really thins out and, I have read, the Way becomes nearly rural. Next time...
Prato Smeraldo, where we are camped, is on
the far south side of the city, on the Via
Ardeatina, and thus it was expedient, we
thought, to take the bus cross-wise to the Via
Appia Antica, rather than the Metro into the
city and back out; and so it worked out, after
an hour searching for the transfer point
between routes 720 and 218

The San Sebastian Portal on the ancient city wall; it is the
largest of the wall's portals; rebuilt five times over the centuries

And we're off

As elsewhere in Rome, free, clean water; bring your own
plastic bottles; Appius Claudius also was responsible for the
first great Roman aquaducts

The first big sight along the Way is the church of Quo Vadis,
where Peter, hoping to make a clean get-away and not get
crucified, ran into Jesus, who shamed him into returning;
"quo vadis" means "Jeez, what are you doing here?!"

The church stands on the spot where J and P met; the above stone,
a replica, reputedly has J's footprints (size 9.5 medium); the real
stone is at the Vatican Museum; several nuns were visiting, 
photographing and then kissing the stone, sort of a Blarney Stone 
moment, I guess

Hugely symbolic interior decor

Random unidentified ancient shrine

Along the Appian Way

Pines of the Appian Way; actually there were more cedars than
than pines; plus three excellent garden centers

Cacti of the Appian Way; outside a large old
building, someone's incredible collection of
perhaps a hundred mature and varied

Entrance to the catacombs of San Sebastian; we did the catacomb
thing back in 1979, we think; and still have our little clay oil
lamp souvenirs (in a box in Missoula)

Part of the villa and circus and mausoleum of the emperor
Maxentius; had it been Trajan or Hadrian or Augustus, or
even Claudius, we might have gone in

Free admission this day, but we were fading quickly in the heat

Best of the mausoleums, that of Caecelia Metella, wife of
Crassus' son, late Republic


The Way ahead, largely pedestrian; but we were pooped

And mile marker III was as far as we got this

We lifted our spirits with a nice light lunch at the Garden of
Giulia and Fratelli; and then headed back

An ancient arch just inside the Portal San Sebastian

Christian graffiti

And a bit of the huge Aurelian Wall

1 comment:

Tawana said...

I'm proud of you for going 3 miles...knowing that you have to walk 3 miles back. Hope the weather does not get too hot. Crazy weather in Europe this year.