Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Via Appia Antica

312 BC for the censor Appius Claudius the Blind (350/271 BC)

The road ended in the city of Capua. Later, in the year 190 BC, it was extended to Brindisi
The original pavement is still visible in some places

Series of tombs and monuments after the Caffarella Valley. The stream which runs into the valley corresponds to the ancient Almone, the sacred river where on every March 27 was washed the sacred image of Cybele, the Magna Mater 
The most important of these tombs is the so-called TOMB OF GETA, a high mausoleum tower topped by a small old house which is a private home now

It is called the Tomb of Geta with no historical basis

Villa di Massenzio

Villa of Maxentius

Built for Maxentius (306/312) over the expropriated Pago Triopio of Herodes Atticus
It is wonderfully immersed in the Roman countryside

Palazzo Imperiale

Imperial Palace

Four main phases of construction:

1) First century BC

2) Julio-Claudian (27 BC/68 AD) period

3) Half of the second century AD, corresponding to the time of Herod Atticus

4) Period of Maxentius with construction work common in that period known as Opus Vittatum or Opus Listatum made by parallel horizontal courses of tuff blocks alternated with bricks

Two nymphea (fountains), major and minor
Cryptoporticus consisting of two parallel tunnels
Large basilica hall, the most important room 33,10 x 19,45 m (108 x 64 feet) originally heated
Long tank, about 63 m (206 feet)

To the east of the tank semicircular room, maybe a monumental entrance to the building during Maxentius’ period

Mausoleo di Romolo

Mausoleum of Romulus

Romulus was the son the emperor had when he was just 16 years old. He drowned when he was only fifteen in the Tiber River in the year 309

Circular building of about 33 m (108 feet) in diameter, preceded by a rectangular projection
Originally there were two floors with the upper floor, now disappeared, probably used for funeral rites and the lower for the graves of the family of Maxentius, constituting his dynastic tomb

At the center of the lower floor huge pillar of 7.5 m (24.6 feet) in diameter with eight niches for burials
Six other niches are inserted in the walls

To the east of the perimeter of the mausoleum, there is a tomb maybe dating back to the Augustan period known as the TOMB OF THE SEMPRONI FAMILY

Circo di Massenzio

Circus of Maxentius

About 500 x 78 m (1,640 x 255 feet) with central part of 296 m (971 feet), exactly 1000 Roman feet, able to seat up to 10,000 spectators on six rows of twelve steps each

In the center used to stand the agonal obelisk maybe originally placed in the Iseum Campensis or, some say, in the Villa of Domitian (81/96) in Albano. Filippo Coarelli and Jean-Claude Grenier deem it coming originally from the Templum Gentis Flaviae which was erected on Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando where now the Octagonal or Minerva Hall, former Planetarium is

The obelisk was moved here in the year 311 by Maxentius and now is in Piazza Navona
In 1959 took place in this circus the outdoors shots of the chariot race for the film Ben Hur

Tomba di Cecilia Metella

Tomb of Cecilia Metella

It dates back to the beginning of the Augustan period, about 25 BC
The diameter is 29.5 m (96.8 feet) or 100 Roman feet. The height is 11 m (36 feet)

The inscription attributes it to the daughter of Metellus, conqueror of Crete and wife of a Marcus Crassus, perhaps the general of Caesar in Gaul

In the eleventh century it became part of the fortification of the Counts of Tusculum and later, in 1299, of the Caetani Castle built for Boniface VIII Caetani (1294/1303) with merlons and sixteen towers
Subsequently it was owned by the families Savelli, Colonna and Orsini
The castle was demolished by Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) to hinder the baronial power and prevent it from being used by bandits

Its shape connects it to the architectural type of the mausoleum of Hellenistic tradition, which at that time reached the maximum diffusion in Rome

Coating of travertine blocks in simple smooth ashlar in faux opus isodoma: not all travertine blocks have the same length and some joints are not real but only drawn on the surface to give the impression of regularity
Pentelic marble frieze with “Bucrania (ox skulls), festoons and trophy of weapons”

In the cella there is brick facing, one of the first examples of the use of this technique, which helps to date the monument to the Augustan period

Inside there is a small ANTIQUARIUM (museum)

Opposite the castle there is the CASTRUM CAETANI with ruins of the church of St. NICHOLAS OF BARI was built by the family Caetani, a rare example of Gothic style in Rome


Named for the ox skulls adorning the frieze of the tomb of Cecilia Metella

Thermal baths of the mid-second century AD used at least until the fourth century, maybe also part of the Pago Triopio of Herodes Atticus

Remarkable remains of mosaic floors are still visible

On the sides of the road


Including the so called “Tomb of Seneca” and the “Tomb of the Rabirii” with copies of three portraits in relief including Usia with attributes of the cult of Isis (the original is in the Roman Archaeological Museum of Palazzo Massimo)

Villa dei Quintili

Quintilis’ Villa

It dates back to the peiood of Hadrian (117/138)

It later became the property of two Quintili brothers as evidenced by the fistule acquarie (water pipes) found here: Sixtus Condianus Maximus Quintilius and Sixtus Valerianus Maximus Quintilius were consuls together in the year 151 and the son of one of them was consul in 172
Falsely accused of a conspiracy, were executed in 182 by Commodus (180/192) who confiscated the villa
It remained imperial property for a long time later and restorations were carried up to the sixth century

The area in 1797 passed to Giovanni Torlonia who promoted excavations in the years 1827/29 taken care of by Antonio Nibby
It was purchased by the Archaeological Superintendence of Rome in 1985

It was the largest among the villas of the Roman suburbs so that in the eighteenth century its ruins were called Roma Vecchia, Old Rome

It was supplied with water from the aqueduct Anio Novus

Two phases of construction:

1) In bricks in about 135

2) In Opus Vittatum or Opus Listatum made by parallel horizontal courses of tuff blocks alternated with bricks dating back to the time of Commodus or to the late third century

Five areas:

1) Group of buildings to the west

2) Large peristyle-garden with nymphaeum (fountain) built as hemicycle on the Appian Way transformed, maybe in the third century, in thermal baths known as Small Baths

3) Main housing estate with two halls 14 m (46 feet) high, a large circular room of 36 m (118 feet) in diameter that was probably not covered with any roof and the Great Baths with frigidarium (for cold baths) and caldarium (for hot baths)

4) Garden-Racecourse 300 x 90 m (985 x 300 feet) with some buildings connected

5) Small buildings to the north

“Statue of Zeus sitting on a rock” of the first half of the second century AD
Displays with statuettes from the area of a sanctuary dedicated to oriental gods and to Zeus Bronton (thunder)
Statues of “Hercules”, “Niobe” and portraits, herms, reliefs, coins, fragments of wall paintings and architectural decorations

Other monuments on the Appian Way

On the sixth mile CASAL ROTONDO (Round Country House)

Circular tomb rebuilt in part by the archaeologist Luigi Canina (1795/1856)

Further on the left TORRE SELCE (Silt Tower)

Tower of the twelfth century built with ancient materials on a mound originally similar to that of Cecilia Metella

Halfway through the eighth mile on the left BERRETTA DI PRETE (Priest’s Hat)

So called for the particular shape. Circular building with dome of the fourth century AD

Shortly before the ninth mile there is the so called TOMB OF GALLIENUS (253/268)

Round brick mausoleum originally covered with a dome and surrounded by a colonnade of marble to which maybe belonged also the large villa behind the mausoleum itself

On the tenth mile there is the MAUSOLEUM OF FRATTOCCHIE

Concrete core of a tomb with square tower built over it in 1855 by the astronomer Angelo Secchi as a cornerstone of the trigonometric measurements experimented at the time along the Appian Way

EIGHT ANCIENT BRIDGES part of the Appian Way were destroyed during the Second World War:
Seven by the retreating Germans in 1943 (Ariccia Bridge, High Bridge before Terracina, Bridge over the Garigliano River, Bridge over the Volturno River at the entrance of Capua, Tufara Bridge, Apollosa Bridge, Corvo Bridge before Benevento) and one by Allied Forces bombing (St. Valentine Bridge after Benevento)

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