The Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) was the first and most important Imperial Roman road, stretching from Rome to Brindisi. The cobblestone road—built in the fourth century BC to transport supplies and soldiers to strategic points throughout the Roman Empire—still exists today, lined with archaeological sites and impressive ruins.
Named for architect Appius Claudius Caecus, the Appian Way was one of Rome’s main highways for centuries. As the empire began its decline in the third century and Rome experienced barbarian attacks, the Aurelian Walls (Mure Aureliane) were erected around the city’s seven hills for protection. These defensive walls had a number of gates, including Porta Appia (or Porta San Sebastiano), which today contains a museum about the Aurelian Walls.
A guided walking or bike tour down the Appian Way from the Aurelian Walls through the Ancient Appian Way Regional Park and Caffarella Park is the perfect way to explore this historic road and the ancient sites along its route through the Roman countryside. Appian Way tours include stops at sites like the thermal baths of Caracalla, the early Christian San Callisto Catacombs, the Circus of Maxentius, the tomb of Caecilia Metella, and the ancient Roman aqueducts. You can also join a guided small-group bus tour to explore the ancient road from central Rome.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If you are joining a hiking or cycling tour, be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
- The Appian Way and sites along its route are all open-air, so bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
- Some of the archaeological sites along the route require an entrance fee.
How to Get There
Metro line A has a stop at Parco Appia Antica, close to the entrance for Via Appia Park.
When to Get There
The Appian Way and its sights are almost entirely outside, so it’s best to visit in the spring and fall when the weather is mild. It takes anywhere from a few hours to an entire day to explore the route on foot or bike, so plan on setting off in the morning.
Parco Regionale della Via Appia Antica
The initial stretch of the Appian Way, just outside Rome’s city center, is part of a regional park, and many of the archaeological sites along the route are located within the park’s confines.