Monday, 13 May 2013

Appia Antica and the Aqueducts

Parts of today were spent waiting for busses. There's nothing I can find, on line or otherwise, that will tell you bus schedules, only bus routes. I downloaded three apps that tell me Rome bus information, and none of them can tell me how long I have to wait at a bus stop. So we spent 28 minutes this morning waiting for a bus that runs every 20 minutes (though at least we got to see the back of Circus Maximus while waiting)...
From a distance
...and another 25 minutes waiting this afternoon for a bus that runs 3 times an hour (while 3 other busses ran in the opposite direction) -- all to visit Appia Antica (the original Appian Way and main road to Rome) on the city's outskirts.

The first stop was at some of the catacombs, though photos were not allowed in the tunnels themselves. The ones we went into (San Sebastiano) have 7 miles of tunnels on 3 levels. No, other than tunnels, there's not much down there (we sort of expected skulls, but they've all gone to dust, and the marble marking the tombs & sarcophagi was all pillaged), but in 1920 they unearthed a set of buried ancient beautifully preserved pagan tombs that someone filled up and built a church on top of. The church (like all churches in Rome) contains something special: the footprints of Christ in marble (made when he was escaping crucifixion in Rome, and St. Peter took his place).
Size 8, I think (is that lightning I hear?)
St. Peter and St. Paul were both buried here for a while. There was "graffiti" on the walls to prove it (and I thought graffiti had no use). There's at least half a dozen sets of catacombs down in this area.

San Sebastiano marks the start of the main section of the old Roman road which is lined with tombs, mausoleums and ruins.
Villa of Maxtentius. Closed Mondays.
Ruined Gothic church 
Tomb of Cecilia Metella, and former road toll station
The road itself is interesting, as the original basalt rocks that make it up are still there, even though it was built in the year 312 BC, and is the only Roman landmark mentioned in the bible.
Straight. Long. Original uneven rocks.
However... we had different expectations for the tombs lining the road. We though there would be a lot of them; there aren't. We thought they would be in good shape; mostly they're piles of rubble.
A typical tomb
Some are in OK shape but don't look like much.

The tablet was installed about 10 years ago.
Some are in moderately good shape.
Partially preserved 
A detail of the plaque
But mostly, they're spread out and not all that interesting.
The long road with typical spacing. 
A couple of biggies further down
Houses line the road even though the whole area is a park. In the park headquarters, there's even a display showing the illegal building that's happened in the park over the last 40 years or so.
Someone's house 
Another, called...
..."Blessed Solitude"
 There's a jumble of other bits laying around...
Associated with something
...but otherwise it's a long (and pretty) walk. It's popular with runners, and they rent bikes, but I don't think a bike's the best way to see the place, plus the road is a bumpy jumbled mess of cobblestones and 2,300 year old pavement.

They did unearth at least one interesting thing recently: in the early 2000's, they bought some dude's villa, because someone had buried an ancient bath complex and turned it into a farm field.
Mosaics intact. What do you suppose is under the house next door?
Kinda the problem in Rome. There's ruins under everything.

The views from the road of the Alban hills are pretty nice.
Some village I don't know the name of.
There's still snow in them 'dar hills.
A ski area, I bet
An OK walk, but not that thrilling. So after the waiting mentioned above, we grabbed the second bus and got back to the metro line. And since we were down that way, decided to visit the Aqueduct park, passing the aftermath of the first car accident we've seen since being here (given how they drive, that's a surprise).
No winners. 2 losers.
So the park holds remnants of not one but two aqueducts.
It continues towards Rome.  St Peter's in the distance 
Magical mix of engineering and arch-itechture
The second's less impressive, overshadowed by it's big brother.
Lower. Water flowing into a stream 
The missing bits are now a pipe/sunbathing spot.
Both were built between 3 BC and 4 AD, and together with the other aqueducts, supplied Rome with 75 litres of water per person per day. Compare that with Canada's current 320 litres, and that's pretty high for 2000 years ago.

The highlight of the day had to be the very cool and photogenic aqueduct.
Quite the work of art
Tomorrow we explore a rose garden, then pack for our first "weekend away". Stay tuned for details!

1 comment:

Louie said...

Wow! "All roads lead to Rome" - looks like a great day.