Visiting the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Short walk visiting the Via Appia Antica from Rome


Typical Stretch Of Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) Near Rome

Quiet on Sundays: Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

On this page

The Via Appia Antica is the old Roman Appian Way, one of the oldest and most important roads from Rome. During ancient Roman times, the road was essential in transporting troops down to the port of Brindisi in southeast Italy.

 

Tourist attractions along the Appian Way include the Catacombs of San Callisto as well as various basilicas and tombs.

 

The stretch close to Rome of the Via Appia Antica is now part of a nature and archaeological park, the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica. It makes a lovely day out, particularly on Sundays when the area is closed to traffic.


It is quite easy to visit the Appian Way at any time either by public bus or the hop on, hop off Archeobus service. We have a dedicated page on the logistics of visiting the Appian Way from Rome.

Appian Way transport


Walking along the Via Appia Antica is a refreshing change from the city, you can also hire bikes from the visitor centre. The road is attractive and atmospheric, with plenty of grassy spots where you can picnic.


You could easily spend a whole day here, but with so much else to see in Rome most visitors spend two hours or less. The Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica is a big place, you can even go on long bike rides of over 30kms within the park. On this page we cover the most popular section of the park for those visiting on foot between the visitor centre and Cecilia Metella.

 

What to expect - walk along the Via Appia Antica between Visitor Centre and Cecilia Metella

We have picked one of the most popular sections of the Appian Way to visit, with something to see every few hundred yards or so. The Visitor Centre is the starting point, you can get maps and leaflets chronicling what there is to see within the park. You can even hire bikes here.


Sunday is the best day by far to visit as private vehicles are barred from using the Via Appia Antica. During the week you can escape the traffic from the Visitor Centre by walking through the grounds San Callisto catacombs and exiting by the Cataconbs of San Sebastiano.


Catacomb San Callisto Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) Near Rome

Catacomb San Callisto: Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Most traffic turns off the Via Appia Antica including the 118 bus as the Via Appia Antica beyond here has sections where only a 4-wheel drive vehicle can negotiate.

Appian Way walk

 

Catacombs of Rome - Catacombs of San Callisto

In ancient Roman times, no one was allowed to be buried within the walls of the city. While pagan Romans were into cremation, Christians preferred to be buried.


The Catacombs of San Callisto is the most sacred and important of all the Roman catacombs and are adjacent to the Via Appia Antica, not far from the visitor centre.


More than 50 martyrs and 16 popes have been buried here, making it one of the most important Christian cemeteries. The size of the Catacombs is impressive. The tunnel complex stretches out for almost 19 kilometres in five levels.


The Catacombs of San Callisto are the single biggest tourist attraction and unlike most of the other relatively low key attractions along the Via Appia Antica caters to the coach tour crowd.


There is a small information centre/gift shop and you join a guided tour of the catacombs in a language that you understand.


Next door The Catacombs San Sabastiano are a smaller alternative.

 

Attractions at the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Typical Attraction Along Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) Near Rome

Ancient remains: attraction along the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Attractions are plenty at the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica. From the visitor centre you can pick up a handout/map listing 54 attractions. Clearly you can only hope to visit a fraction of these in one day, even if you hire a bike from the Visitor Centre.


The Archeobus hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus and Rome's public buses give you direct access to the section of the Via Appia Antica between the visitor centre and Cecilia Metella. This is the section most visitors will walk along as a result, Only 10 of the listed 54 attractions are along this section, but for most this is more than enough.


Along the way are an assortment of places you can visit, villa's, basilica's, tombs and such like. Some have free access, some have small charges of a few Euro. Some are closed on Mondays, some have information boards and leaflets some don't.


The lasting memory for most though will be the Via Appia Antica itself at one of it's most unspoilt sections where it is easy to imagine the road as its was 2,000 years ago.


Map of northern section of Via Appia Antica nearest Rome

Map Of Northern Section Of Appian Way Nearest Rome
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