Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Appian Way . . . Rome to Minturnae

Photos by Jack Waldron
There is only one way to leave Rome, that is Via Appia Antica!  Michigan can boast the first paved automobile highway from Detroit to Grand Rapids, but the ancient Romans were first to build a paved super highway, known as the Appia Way, connecting Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southern 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 during the Samnite Wars.
Still in Rome, beautiful fields of wild flowers and rolling hills make a cyclists exit from the capital a pleasure . . . 
 Grave monuments line the route along the Via Appia . . . 
The grave monument above is for Caius Rubirius Postumus Hermodorus, Lucia Rabiria Demaris and Usia Prima, priestess of Isis, along the Via Appia, near Quarto Miglio.
The Appian Way leads south from Rome past the Ciampino Airport, where it is fenced off from entry and covered with soil.  From here, I road along the very busy Via Appia Nuova before turning toward the coast and Anzio on highway 207.  
Located at the top of a hill on the Appian Way, the tomb dominates the surrounding landscape. Atop a quadrangular base seven meters high, it consists of a cylindrical body 11 meters in height, with a diameter of 29 meters; this is surmounted by fortifications added during the medieval period.  The simple inscription facing the Appian Way reads: CAECILIAE / Q. CRETICI F. / METELLAE CRASSI, or "To Caecilia Metella, daughter of Quintus Creticus, [and wife] of Crassus"
Below, three photos of the British cemetery at Anzio, where 3,212 are buried, and who died during the landing at Anzio in WWII.  The American cemetery is in Nettuno, nearby.  The grounds are kept immaculate year round . . . 



Above and below are photos of a roadside memorial to cyclist Ivano Arcolin, who was killed by a car on this location.

Above, the acropolis of Terracina as viewed from the beach . . . 
Above, a reconstruction of the acropolis at Terracina.  Below, a full view of the front of the base and podium for the Temple of Jupiter Anxur atop the acropolis at Terracina, and a photo of the back right corner of the Temple, that also shows steps at the back, which was a portico with sloping roof, and which ran behind the Temple.



The Rock (above) to the right of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur once housed an oracle.  The Rock was once connected to the ambulacrum below, and as it was hollow, the wind blowing through the rock made noises that were then interpreted as the voice of the god.
Below, three pictures of the supporting structure of the lower terrace (visible from the city below), on which the Temple of Jupiter Anxur among other structures sat.  A series of twelve arches line the front, while arched also climb the rock face on the right side of the structure.  Above is a photo (from within the lower terrace supporting structure) of the inner ambulacrum that houses the Oracle Cave, a natural cavity that in antiquity was both connected with the oracle itself above, and to a gallery stretching towards the sea.  



Built before the Great Temple, a smaller one sat on the upper terrace (above photo), which was supported by these vaulted arches below.  Later in the middle ages the internal corridor was reused as a church and monastery dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, and it is still possible to see frescos dating back to the ninth century AD.
Above, the view north (and my route) from the acropolis at Terracina
From Anzio south the beaches are endless, and the campsites are numerous.  One campsite that certainly stands out is Camping Chalet Azzurro, near Minturno and ancient Minturnae.
I ate my first Italian home cooked meal with the Augusto Romano familia (who own Camping Chalet Azzurro), and who must be the hardest working family in Italy.  Their campsite is spotless, as is the beach that they care for.  As I site writing this post, they having a well earned siesta after a very busy morning.  The new wifi was installed before my very eyes, and it's lightening fast!  They spray for mosquitoes, so the evenings are buzz-free, and the sites are all covered with screen, to dampen the sun.  I could stay here forever, if the roads ahead were not laying in wait.  Only three kilometers from the Appian Way, here is where you'll want to stay when you reach Marina di Minturno.

Above, Via Appia within ancient Minturnae (near Minturno), was one of the three towns of the Ausones which made war against Rome in 314 BC, the other two being called Ausona (modern Sessa Aurunca and Vescia; and the Via Appia was made two years later.  It became a colony in 296 BC.  In 88 BC, Gaius Marius hid himself in the marshes of Minturnae in his flight from Sulla.
The colonnade to the enterance of the Macellum (market) with the Appian Way in front, and behind the Macellum lay the ruins of the Thermae Baths of Minturnae.
Archeologist Hubert studying the water system of Minturnae.
The ancient aqueduct built to deliver water from the mountains to Mintunrae.
Honey Bees doing their business on the theater in Minturnae.
Below, the Appian Way runs through the center of ancient Minturnae.

The landscape in this part of Italy was described by Revd John Chetwode Eustace in A Classical Tour Through Italy (first published 1813):
The road runs over a fine plain, bordered on the left by distant mountains; and on the right by the sea. About three miles from the Liris (Garigliano) [river] an aqueduct, erected to convey water to Minturnae, passes the road; it is now in ruins, but the remaining arches, at least a hundred, lofty and solid, give a melancholy magnificence to the plain which they seem to bestride. On the banks of the Liris and to the right of the road extend the ruins of Minturnae, spread over a considerable space of ground, exhibiting substructions, arches, gateways, and shattered walls, now utterly forsaken by human inhabitants ... The delay occasioned by the ferry affords the traveller time enough to range over the site and the remains of Minturnae.

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

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