Appia Antica: A Path into Rome’s Past

Appian Way

Exploring the Appian Way, one of the most ancient and well-preserved Roman roads.

Rome might be a bustling capital, with trafficked streets and packed attractions, but it also offers opportunities to unwind in nature–while breathing in ancient Roman history.

The Appia Antica, or the Appian Way, is what could be considered the first ancient highway, connecting Rome to Brindisi in Puglia. This historic road was once referred to as the Regina viarum or queen of the streets, a testament to its significance in ancient times.

The Appian Way owes its name to Appius Claudius Caecus, a Roman censor who oversaw the construction of the first part of the road, built as a military path to the south in 312 BC. Yes, it’s that old!

Today, the road is a remarkable relic of Rome’s past. It’s an essential stop on any Rome itinerary!

Gardens and Parks in Rome

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What to see along the Appian Way

The first 16 kilometers of the Appian Way are now part of the Parco dell’Appia Antica regional park. This stretch of the road begins from Porta San Sebastiano and is lined with many ancient monuments on both sides. The road is remarkably well-preserved, constructed from large, flat stones known as basoli.

Some of the sites that have stood the test of time along the path include the Catacombs of San Sebastiano and the Catacombs of San Callisto. These catacombs served as burial sites for Christian martyrs. They are a fascinating and unique attraction to visit in Rome.

Further along is the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, built in honor of Cecilia Metella, daughter-in-law of Marcus Crassus, who was a prominent figure under Julius Caesar.

A Guide To Rome’s Catacombs

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Another highlight is the Circus and Villa of Maxentius, a grand arena where chariot races were once held, situated next to the remains of Emperor Maxentius’ vast villa.

Next up is the Villa of the Quintili. It stands as Rome’s most extensive suburban villa, once owned by the two brothers Sesto Quintilio Condiano and Sesto Quintilio Valerio Massimo, notable figures during the era of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.

Each monument/museum has its own opening times and prices, some being free. Or if you’re just looking for a daytime refuge from busy Roman life, bring a picnic and enjoy the sun on the park’s grounds!

The Appia Antica offers a perfect blend of history, sightseeing, and physical activity, especially if you opt to explore it by bike.

Appia Antica Regional Park

How to explore the Appian Way

The Appia Antica Regional Park is not far from the centre. To arrive directly at the official entrance of the park, take bus 218 from the San Giovanni area, bus 118 from Circo Massimo, or bus 660 from Metro A stops Colli Albani/Arco di Travertino.

Exploring the 16-kilometer stretch of the road on foot can be exhausting. A fantastic way to experience it is by joining an e-bike tour.

This tour offers the opportunity to glide along the 2300-year-old Roman road effortlessly, passing by ancient ruins and monuments. Departing from the Ancient Appian Way, you’ll journey towards the ancient Roman aqueducts rising over the fields on the horizon and follow them on their way back to Rome.


4 hour off-the-beaten-path guided bike tour of Rome with quality electric-assist mountain bike.

For a different kind of adventure, consider a golf cart tour.

This 3-hour excursion ensures a comfortable ride aboard an electric golf cart, with stops to admire highlights like the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, the Circus and Villa of Maxentius, and the Roman catacombs.

golf cart tour at appia antica regional park

Jump on a golf cart, and combine the allure of the Appian Way and the mysterious depths of the catacombs hidden in a stunning protected area.

An excursion to the Appia Antica is perfect for the tourist who is tired of being squeezed into the capital’s most-visited sites, or for the Rome resident who is looking for something fun and different.

Either way, don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water!

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