«Today I went to the ninfa Egeria, then to the Baths of Caracalla and then to the Via Appia to see the ancient tombs and the best conserved one of Cecilia Metella, which gives the concept of the stoutness of the masonry. These men worked for an eternity and calculated everything, apart from the fierce devastation of those who came after and in front of whom would have fallen». With these words the great Goethe in his “Italian Journey” recounts the walk that we propose, among nobile traces, ancient mansions, legendary towers and burial mounds. Just walking it is possible to rediscover up-close the treasures of the Via Appia Antica, guided by the romantic spirit of the “Grand Tour” and with scientific rigor that inspired the subsequent 19th Century archeological excavations.
Regina viarum, the Appia was constructed by censor Appio Claudio in 312 B.C. to connect Rome to Capua, a crossroads to the connections with the Orient, Naples and the Etruscan cities, which then became part of Magna Grecia, the better, richest and most civilized regions of the ancient world. Favored by Romans since ever (the Scipioni dynasty selected it for their family tomb) the Via Appia always evoked, during the centuries, the admiration of travelers, including the most distinguished. In the 19th century Luigi Canina organized a tour with a proper scenographic edging which brought back to life, after so many centuries, the magnificence of that «unique monument to be preserved religiously intact, for the history and legends connected to it, for its ruins and trees, for the countryside and landscape, for the solitude, the silence, its lights, the sunrises and sunsets… untouchable as the Acropolis of Athens» (Antonio Cederna).
Along the path of the Appia Antica, today, you can come across evidences and monuments that tell the history of Rome: The Gate of San Sebastian and the Aurelian Walls, the area of the Circus and of the Imperial Palace of Maxientius, the grand round mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, the Villa of Quintilli. The nearby church of San Nicola is the only example of gothic-cistercian architecture in Rome. Here in 2011 Woody Allen shot some of the scenes from his movie “To Rome with Love”.