The saying goes that all roads lead to Rome. But history shows that it should actually be the opposite, all roads lead FROM Rome. Rome was the centre of an Empire for many years and from Rome were built many roads that would quickly take soldiers and good from one city to another. Via Appia was one of the major roads leading south from Rome.
Building for the road started in 312 BC. It well over 2000 years old and much of the original stone work stills stands. It was history made tangible.
We took a hop-on-hop-off bus to get to the Appian Way. The first part of the trip down Via Appia Antica wasn't what we expected. The road was narrow, with tall walls lining each side and business packed close together. We got off the bus near the tomb of Cecillia Metella and walked south on foot. For a while the road was still lined closely with walls and buildings. Not quite the open country side we had heard of. After about 15 minutes of walking, we saw ahead some construction workers who had the road blocked off, but not the side grass. Many of the other tourists we saw were turning around at the construction fence. We decided to see if we could go past it. As we walked around the fence on the grass knoll that rises on either side of the road, the workers gave us a wave and we waved back with a 'Boungiorno!'. Once on the other side of the construction we were almost completely alone except for the odd cat and lizard. That is when the country side opened up.
The high walls shrank to lower walls that were made more to keep animals in and to mark boundaries than to keep prying eyes out. Fields of tall grass and birds that were strange to us were our view on both sides, along with bits of old marble and brick work, all that is left of what used to be the tombs that lined Via Appia Antica.
At one point we saw a field with a herd of sheep grazing. In the middle of the field was an abandoned building. I tried desperately to get a good shot from our side of the fence, but it just wasn't working. So I asked Mike to keep watch, and I jumped up on to the stone fence, bringing me above the low brushes that were obscuring my view. I snapped as many pictures as I could with all three of the camera's I had with me. I jumped down just in time as some came up the road. They didn't stop or say anything so they probably didn't see me. There really isn't anything worse than being yelled at in a language you can't fully understand.
After we'd walked past the construction, the sheep and many many fields, we realized we were hungry, in fact, starving. But we were so far into residential area that we had no idea where to find a place to eat. We saw a sign that said 'Trattoria' and pointed to a road going off of the Appian Way. Rejoicing we turned and began walking, thinking we would find it soon. We walked and walked and each time we began to wonder if we were perhaps on a fools errand we would see another sign pointing us forward. Eventually we came across what seemed to be a tennis club. There seemed to be a club house with a restaurant on the grounds. Uncertain and starving, we walked in. While admittedly the staff hadn't seen a lot of tourists and we communicated in gestures more than words, it was one of the best meals we had ever had. I have no idea what the name of the club was, but we were so happy to have found it! We returned to our bus stop satisfied and in awe of the beautiful Italian country side.