The Walk – Day 1

Let’s Walk

Our walk will start on the 24th of April 2022 from the Roman forum and our aim is to arrive that evening at Albano Romano or Albanum as it was called in Roman times.  

11Caelimontana gate
Caelimontana gate

To get to Albano we will have to cross the Roman Forum on the via Sacra or Holey Road underneath the Arch of Septimius Severus past the Roman Senate or Curia, The Basilica Julia, The Basilica  Aemilia, The Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Divus Romulus, the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, underneath the arch of Titus alongside the Temple of Venus and Roma, turn right in front of the Coliseum around the Arch of Constantine take the ramp up to the Caelian Hill towards and into probably one of the oldest Roman streets called the Clivus Scauri.  At the end of this street, we will exit the Republican city through the Caelimontana gate that was part of the Servian walls when the construction of the Appian Road started. 

But were all these temples and arches they are going to pass during the first part of our walk present at the time of the construction of the via Appia? At that time many stone buildings we see today were not present and the forum was probably filled with houses and temples constructed mostly in wood.

11Scale model of archaic Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana
Scale model of archaic Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana

After exiting the gate, we will take a right down the Caelian hill towards another city gate called Porta Metronia situated in the Aurelian walls which were constructed in all haste during the third part of the second century AD when the Roman empire and Rome started to be vulnerable from attacks and sieges.  In front of porta Metronia we take another right towards the Circus Maximus where we will enter the first stretch of the Via Appia. This part has been rescued from further destruction and decay by the Italian Archaeologist and activist Antonio Cederna who managed to create the Appia Antica Park against all odds during the 1990s. Another ugly cut across the Appia by the Roman ring road (G.R.A.) was repaired in 2004 due to the tenacity of Ing. Corrado Venturini who managed to convince managers of the ANAS (National Autonomous Roads Corporation) to repair the continuity of the via Appia by constructing a motorway tunnel so that the missing piece of the Appia Antica could be reconstructed on top. Walking the Appia in this parc and we will pass many archaeological remains which you can look up on this PDF

Tomb of the Scipios, Columbarium of Pomponio Hylas, Arch of Drusus, Saint Sebastians gate,  
the Aurelian Walls, Tomb of Geta, Tomb of Priscilla, Church of Domine Quo Vadis,  
Catacombs of Saint Callixtus. 

 At the Church of Domine Quo Vadis we will, to have a safe walk and avoid traffic, enter the grounds of the catacombs of San Callixtus to exit these grounds again next to the catacombs of Saint Sebastian, from that point we will encounter the following archaeological remains:  

 Basilica e Catacombe di San Sebastiano, Mausoleum of Romolo, Circus of Maxentius, Tomb of Cecilia Metella, Church of Saint Nicola, Museum and Villa Capo di Bove, Tombs of the IV mile, Villa dei Quintili, Casal Rotondo, Torre Selce, Aqueduct of the Quintili, Sepolcro a Esedra, Temple of Hercules, Berretta del Prete , Tomb of Galieno.   

We will exit the Parc at Santa Maria delle Mole where our the Appia will disappear underneath black top and we will have to share the road with heavy traffic. To the important Roman town of Albano Laziale or Albanum in Latin which will the end point of Day 1, it will be another 5 km uphill. Halfway up we will reach Boville which was another very important ancient town, a station on the Via Appia and the origin of the gens Iulia. It was a colony of Alba Longa and appears as one of the thirty cities of the Latin league. After the destruction of Alba Longa in 658 BC the sacra were, it was held, transferred to Bovillae, including the cult of Vesta and that of the gens Iulia. The existence of this hereditary worship led to an increase in its importance when the Julian house rose to the highest power in the state. At Albana Laziale, which as in  we will be rewarded with some good food and wine and a deserved rest to start the next day to make some more roman miles to visit other ancient towns on the Appia and to admire what was probably one of the first constructed traffic ramps in Italy.