Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Via Appia Antica

Decided I would head outside the walls today for my last wanderings in Rome. Discovered a straightline road that led from S.M Maggiore to St John Lateran. From there managed to use the map to follow a few busy roads until I was on the road for Porta S Sebastiano. If I had imagined I was going to be on a quiet old rural road, I soon had that thought squashed as I clung to the side of the road, hoping the Roman traffic did its usual thing of avoiding the pedestrian! Soon I was passing under the gate and outside of the old city walls.
The Via Appia Antica had an 'old' feel to it: it was narrow, had cobbles, and many of the properties along it had older walls. But that traffic kept on whizzing by! I was soon at a church called Domine Quo Vadis, and then carried on walking along the road to S Sebastiano catacomb.
At S Sebastiano catacomb I had to wait for an 'English' guided tour. I think that was basically for everyone who wasn't Italian. It was explained that we would see three kinds of tombs: single Christian tombs, family Christian tombs, and three pagan Roman mausoleums. We descended into the tufa and followed a few of the many tunnels that were carved out. Quite a few of the tombs were small, and our guide pointed out the child mortality was high. The Roman pagan tombs at the end were remarkably well preserved, with frescoes and stucco still plainly visible. Our guide pointed out that they had been buried for so many centuries and had been quite forgotten.
Various early Christian symbols were visible and the guide pointed out some graffiti that mentioned Paul. Tradition says that both Peter and Paul were buried here during a time of persecution of early Christians, before their bodies were moved to their respective Roman churches.
I carried on walking up the Via Antica for a while, passing a variety of different ruins. The road became more peaceful and there was a section with huge big old cobblestones. I had some lunch at a place along the way then it started raining lightly. For once I actually needed the raincoat I was carrying - though the rain was light and the temperature remained warm.
As I got back to the edge of the city, the walls became more obvious as the modern road travelled alongside them. Ancient and modern, side by side - a typical Roman sight.
This has been my last day in Rome. Tomorrow I leave for Locarno in the south of Switzerland, via trains to Milan and Bellinzona. Not sure how affordable internet will be in Switzerland, but you can be sure I will be enjoying some mountain walks!


  1. I LOVE tombs and that sort of stuff!

  2. hope you are fine kiwi! how are the bikes and walks looking?

  3. Went walking in the valleyof my Scettrini ancestor today. Waiting for the north to warm up for biking. Maybe another month.