A Roman Road : Walking The Appian Way

AA wall sign

A walk along the Appian Way was something I’d read about in my Quiet Rome book and in other guides so I’d added it to my ‘to-do’ list for when I was next in Rome. I studied various ways to approach the way and in the end booked the excursion ‘Catacombs and Roman Countryside Group’ with Enjoy Rome. I’ve written about the Catacombs and Aqueduct visits already. Now its the turn of The Appian Way. You’ll have noticed already that it was a rainy day but nevertheless we did manage a brief walk for a few hundred metres and now, maybe on a future visit, I feel confident to take public transport and do a further walk like the 90-Minute one described in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide.

cecilia metella

Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella

We were a small group of 15 and the half-day excursion included travel by minibus from the ER offices near Termini Station and back. From the Catacombs we bumped and jostled (I don’t recommend doing this by car!) along the Way and finally parked opposite the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella on the Third Mile Section.

wet way

A wet Appian Way

From here we took to the wet cobbles of the road which had been built to link Rome with Brindisi in southeast Italy. The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC. It is a Roman standard 4 metres wide surfaced with ancient basalt flagstones and flanked on either side by private villas (many built upon the original Roman foundations), cypress trees and pines. Needless to say the basalt cobbles were rather slippery when wet.

AA Villa

Villa along the Way

AA Cafe

The Bar Caffe del Appia Antica

Refreshment stops along the Way are few and far between but this cafe hires out bikes in summer and is (apparently) near the bus stop for the 660 which would take you to Metro Station San Giovanni – but don’t take my word for it!!

St Nicholas church

St Nicholas Church on The Appian Way

After the excursion I took the Metro to the Piazza del Popolo, crossed it in the rain and took shelter at Canova to eat a five cheese lunch and watch the dripping brollies go by!

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza Del Popolo

Canova lunch

Five Cheeses and What looks like Jelly but tastes like Hot Mustard!

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Acquapendente to Bolsena and Bolsena to Orvieto

Day 6

Free day in Bolsena: Explore Bolsena, its ancient streets, castle, Etruscan temples and church, and catacombs of Santa Cristina, site of the miracle of Corpus Christi. Swimming in the lake. Optional walk from Acquapendente through the low Monti Volsinii (12.2 miles, 6 hours).

Bolsena

Bolsena comes into view as we complete our walk from Acquapendente

Being gluttons for punishment of course we’d decided all along on the optional walk from Acquapendente. Lucky for us that Tuesday morning had been assigned by Annalisa as our ‘feedback’ time for the trip. So, as previously arranged, we met Annalisa in the hotel lobby and gave our views on the walks and hotels, restaurants etc. This slightly delayed our departure so A, whose home is in Acquapendente, offered us a lift to the start of the walk advising on places to buy lunch and water for the day. We bid her a very fond farewell as she drove off to her next assignment.

Farewell Annalisa

Goodbye Annalisa and Thank you! – Keep Smiling! You’re doing a great job!

Day 7

Bolsena to Orvieto: An old Etruscan lane leads up through woods to a plateau and across farmland. The first view of Orvieto, situated high on its extinct volcano, is unforgettable (11.3 miles, 5.5 hours). Don’t miss the magnificent cathedral with frescoes.

Wednesday, the final day of our journey to Orvieto, the weather was back to its usual blue sky and sunshine. We walked up through the old town of Bolsena and up out of the crater following a paved Roman Road and an Etruscan Lane. We were told that the route follows the historic trail of the procession of the Miracle of Bolsena.

Lake Bolsena last morning

Lake Bolsena as we leave the town

Bolsena 1

Historic Bolsena

Bolsena 2

Old Bolsena

La Medusa  Shop

La Medusa Shop – Maker of Replica Roman/Etruscan Artefacts??

La Medusa

La Medusa

Bolsena rooftops

The Rooftops and Lake – Bolsena

Bolsena Castle

Bolsena Castle

Leaving the town we soon turned from the tarmac road onto a long ancient track. “You are now walking on the old paved Roman Road to Orvieto with the flagstones clearly visible underfoot” declared the Route Booklet. I think possibly our route diverted quite a bit from the typical Roman straight-line road but we certainly approached Orvieto downhill and then uphill in a straight line.

Roman Road

The Roman Road leaving Bolsena

Ronman Road 2

Flagstones clearly visible underfoot

We crossed the border from Lazio into Umbria (Bolsena and Acquapendente are both in Lazio we left Tuscany behind between San Quirico and Latera on Monday). A couple of kilometres later we visited our final 9 Etruscan tombs. They appeared rather abandoned and the Information Board had been stripped of all information. About 5 km from our hotel in Orvieto we had our first view of the city perched on its extinct volcanic rock.

Some of 9 Etruscan tombs

Some of the 9 Etruscan Tombs

First view of Orvieto

Our first view of Orvieto

We made it! We arrived at our hotel in Orvieto with a great feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Our last night was spent in Orvieto but although the ATG holiday finished with breakfast the next day we were to travel on to Rome for a further night before returning to Yorkshire on Friday.

Orvieto Cathedral 1

The Orvieto Duomo or Cathedral at night

Orvieto Cathedral day

Begun in 1290 it is probably the finest example of Romanesque Gothic in Italy – The Duomo by day

Like our achievement – Magnificent!!