Ancient Appian Way walk

Ancient Appian Way walk. Enjoy a beautiful walking tour along the ancient Appian way, a road constructed as long ago as 812 B.C. from Rome to the south and even to the sea, and taking its name from the consul Appius Claudius Caecus. At first it is enclosed by walls, then it becomes more open. It was on either side that the Romans had their tombs, remains of which are still to be seen in some numbers, but only in fragments. Apart from its general interest, its antiquity, its ruins, its tombs, there are two special motives that take visitors to Rome along the ancient Appian Way, and these are to see the Catacombs and to see the church known as the Quo Vadis.

Ancient Appian Way walk- a close up


The Ancient Appian way, called Regina Viarum by Statius, was begun B.C. 312, by the Censor Appius Claudius, the Blind, ” the most illustrious of the great Sabine and Patrician race, of whom he was the most remarkable representative.” It was paved throughout, and during the first part of its course served as a kind of patrician cemetery, being bordered by a magnificent avenue of family tombs. The catacombs lie for the most part within a three mile radius of the wall of Aurelian. They number forty-five, and it is calculated that the passages, galleries, and chambers of which they consist cover several hundred miles, forming a vast underground city “subterranean Rome.” For the first 300 years, until “the Peace of the Church,” this was the ordinary place of burial, certain catacombs being affiliated, from the third century, to the ecclesiastical regions in the city.

Even after the “Peace” Christians were sometimes buried here, until the fifth century, after which the catacombs were visited as places of pilgrimage for another 400 years. No one penetrated till the fifteenth century—the first pioneer belongs to the sixteenth—and it was not till the second half of the nineteenth that a new world was laid bare to the student by the excavations of De Rossi, who rediscovered the great cemetery of Callistus. The terrible underground chasms filled with snakes were found to be galleries of tombs, crypts of all sizes, lighted by shafts, some with seats for catechists, some adapted as miniature basilicas, decorated with frescoes recording biblical scenes, New Testament parables and symbolical representations of New Testament events, eloquent with inscriptions in the epigraphy of the first four centuries, recorded in moments of simple human emotion, intended only for the dead and those who survived them sorrowing; and lastly, covered with graffiti with prayers, names, acclamations, scratched on the walls of galleries leading to some favourite crypt by pilgrim visitors in later centuries.

Ancient Appian Way walk – the itinerary

Share, copy, print the map or read it on your phone or tablet via Google My Maps app

Here’s what you need to do to use your Google Map offline:

Step 1 Enlarge the map and visualize it online. Click on the icon with 3 vertical dots and click on “Export to KML”.

Step 2 A pop-up box should come up so you can save the KML file to your computer.

Step 3 Download the app “Maps.ME” on your phone:

Step 4 Email the saved KML file to your personal email.

Step 5 Open the email on your phone. Select the KML file attachment and scroll through the open options until you see the Maps.ME app.

Step 6 Open the file in the Maps.ME app.

Step 7 You will be able to use this map with GPS even without a phone signal!

Full day tour
Via Appia Antica

Optional starting points:

1) You can take the 118 line bus from Circo Massimo/Fori imperiali/ Colosseo up to Basilica S. Sebastiano

2) Or you can start your walking tour from the Circo Massimo Metro B


Circo Massimo
In the valley where Romulas celebrated the consuali games in, honour of Neptune and where the rape of the Sabine women was effected, Tarquinius Priscus founded the circus which, being the most ancient, the largest and the most magnificent, was subsequently called Maximus. The circenses or games of the circus formed the grandest spectacle of ancient Rome they consisted in races of cars drawn by two or by four horses, in the game called Ludus Trojae, athletic exercises and other spectacles. In the city and in the environs were other Circi, those of Flaminius , Flora, Sallust, Cajus or Nero, Adrian, Varius, Heliogabalus, Alexander Severus, Romulus the son of Maxentius, the last being the best preserved gives an idea of the parts and distribution of these edifices.

Piazza di Porta Capena
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 28
Basilica dei SS. Nereo e Achilleo (Small Basilica)

The former church was named after two martyrs, officers of the Emperor Domitian’s household, who are said to have been converted by St. Peter in person. Their remains, after certain vicissitudes, are preserved here, all but the heads, which are kept at S. Maria in Vallicella.

This church was built about the year 542 of the Christian era and rebuilt in 1596 by Cardinal Baronio. It possesses ambones and the marble seat on which pope S.Gregory said the XXXIII homily which is in part engraved on it, at the confessional are four africano columns, the interior is divided by several columns into three naves, the altars have each two columns of fluted Phrygian marble, the frescoes representing several acts of the apostles are by Roncalli, a scholar of Pomarancio, who painted the S. Domitilla, the high altar is decorated with four fine africano columns. At the tribune is an ancient mosaic representing the transfiguration of Christ supposed to be of the VIII century. The facade is painted in chiaroscuro by Massei.

An earlier name for the church was Titulus de Fasciola, in honour of the bandage which St. Peter is said to have dropped from his foot, at this spot, as he was fleeing from Rome,before the incident commemorated in the question Quo vadis.

Via di Porta San Sebastiano
San Cesareo de Appia
This church, the origin of which is traced to the VIII century, derives its appellation from the adjoining thermae of Caracalla called like all other large edifices in the lower ages, palatium. After various restorations it was completed by Clement VIII.
The church is only open on Sunday mornings from 11 to 13.

Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 18
Porta San Sebastiano (Monument)
Arco di Druso (Monument)
Built by the Senate in honor of Nero Claudius Drusus, the father of the Emperor Claudius , after his death. It is composed of large blocks of travertine, of two columns of Africano of the composite order, and was restored by Caracalla for the passage of the aqueduct that conveyed water to his thermae, the arcades of which are still visible.


Via Appia Antica 51
Chiesa del Domine quo vadis (Non Parish Church)
St. Peter is said that fleeing from the persecution, here met his Divine Master, as it is to be seen from two frescoes painted in this church in 1862 by order of Maria Christina of Spain. This church is called, also, St. Maria delle Piante from a stone (which is in the church of S. Sebastian) on which, it is said, the Savior having put his feet left their impressions. On the high altar is a fresco of Giotto’s school. The Savior standing in the middle of the church is a reproduction in chalk of the statue by Michelangelo in S. Maria sopra Minerva.


Via Appia Antica, 110
Catacombe di San Callisto (Catacombs)
It is important because here were the tombs of the popes S. Anteros, S.Lucius, S. Fabianus, S. Eutychianus, and. S. Sixtus II. In the cripta, called cubiculum pontificium, there are some inscriptions composed by Pope Damasus and memories of visitors of the centuries IV V, VI. There are the tombs of the pope S. Eusebius, of St. Cecilia and of S. Cornelius, there are also several symbolical representations of the I century.

Notes:even if you do not want to visit the catacombs of San Callisto, I suggest you take the very pleasant road in the park of the Catacombs to reach the Circus of Maxentius and the tomb of Cecilia Metella. The street outside is, in fact, traveled by motor vehicles and therefore can be less enjoyable.


Via Appia Antica, 136
Basilica e catacombe di S. Sebastiano (Catacombs)
One of the seven capital basiliche of Rome. It is erected on the catacombs where S. Sebastian’s body was interred. It is said, also, I that S. Peter’ sand S. Paul’s bodies there were hidded. This basilica is said to have been built by Constantine and consecrated by S. Sylvester and in 367 it was restored by the pope S. Damasus. After having been restored by sundry Pontiffs it was rebuilt by Cardinal Scipio Borghese in 1911 on the designs of Flaminio Ponzio, the facade is decorated with a portico supported by six granite columns, the high altar with four of verd’antico marble. In the chapel dedicated to S. Sebastian, restored on the designs of Giro Ferri, is the statue of the saint executed by Giorgetti, on the model of Bernini, the paintings over the three doors in the interior are by Antonio Caracci.

The door to the right of the S. Sebastian chapel leads to the Catacombs or cemetery of S. Callixtus where the earth is dug out in the form of galleries, these excavations were made by the ancient Romans to procure the pozzolana used in the fabrics they raised, they were enlarged by the christians – to whom they served as a place of refuge in times of persecution – who celebrated here their sacred functions and buried their dead, these catacombs are supposed to have an extension of six miles.

Things you should know about the catacombs:

Rome catacombs: history and facts
Rome catacombs facts
The double contrast of the catacombs: grief and peace
Favorite symbols from the catacombs


Via Appia Antica, 153
Circo di Massenzio (Villas and archaeological areas)
Till the year 1825 this circus was supposed to be that of Caracalla on three very frivolous grounds: the passion of that Emperor for these games, a medal with a circus on the reverse the discovery in this vicinity of his statue and that of Julia Pia his mother, but a passion for the games does not imply the building ot this edifice, the medal may allude to the circus maximus, statues are easily transferred from one place to another and no reliance can be placed on the denomination of portraits in past ages.

In addition to these reasons the construction with irregular masses of tufa and brick is directly opposed to that of the magnificent Antoniniane Thermae, a work certainly of Caracalla, and to other contemporary edifices, while these in every respect have the character of the IV century. But all doubt on the subject is removed by the excavations undertaken by the late Duke Giovanni Torlonia, the proprietor of the ground, who cleared the carceres, the spina and the arena, when parts of three inscriptions were found bearing the name of Maxentius, the one best preserved placed, as customary, under the great gate stating that the circus was consecrated in the year 311 of the present era to the divinized Romulus, the son of Maxentius, who had been twice Consul.

Via Appia Antica, 161
Tomb of Cecilia Metella
This monument, one of the most magnificent and best preserved of ancient Rome, was raised, as appears by the inscription, to Cecilia Metella, the daughter of Q. Metellus and wife of Crassus.

Note: this is the very starting point of the Via Appia antica

Via Appia Antica 251
Tenuta di santa Maria Nova (Archaeological heritage)

Via Appia Antica, 290
Villa dei Quintili

Ancient Appian Way walk back to Piramide

Via Appia Antica 290
Walk 950 meters
Stop Herodes Atticus / Appia Antica
Wait for the bus line 765 towards Agricoltura

Number of stops: 17 stops
Exit at: Vigna Murata
50 meters
Board at: Metro B – B1 Laurentina towards Bologna

Number of stops: 7 stops
Exit at: Piramide

Ancient Appian Way walk: dinner time

via Galvani 64
Tripadvisor review

Ancient Appian Way walk- notes and opening hours

Nereo e Achilleo
Address: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 28
Opening times
Thursday-Monday: 10.00 – 12.00 and 16.00 – 18.00;
Tuesday-Wednesday: closed;

Domine Quo Vadis (S.Maria in palmis)
Address: Via Appia Antica, 51
Opening times
Every days 8.00am-6.00pm
In summer closing time at 7.00pm

San Callisto catacombs visitors informations
Address: Via Appia Antica, 110
The catacombs of St. Callixtus are open all year round, except on Christmas, New Year’s Day and at Easter Sunday.
The catacombs of St. Callixtus are closed on Wednesdays
And from 30 January to 26 February 2014.
Visiting hours: 9.00 – 12.00 14.00 – 17.00
The price of admission is € 8.
The visit is GUIDED for free by guides who speak various languages. The visit (introduction beforehand and the walk through the Catacombs) will last about 30/40 minutes.

Saint Sebastian catacombs visitors Informations
Address: Via Appia Antica, 136
From Monday to Saturday
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 5.00 pm
Last entrance 4:30 pm
Closure at 5 pm
Closed on sunday
Closure on the following feast days: 25th december (christmas day), 1st january (new years day).
Annual closure: from 17 november to 15 december 2013.
Entrance tickets with guided tour:
Standard ticket € 8,00 adults

Villa e Circo di Massenzio
Address: Via Appia Antica, 153
Opening times
Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00;
24 and 31 December 10.00 – 14.00
Closed: Monday, December 25, January 1, May 1
Last admission 1/2 hour before closing time
Free entrance

Santa Maria Nova
via Appia Antica 251
Opening times
09.00 – 16.30 from January 2 to February 15
09.00 – 17.00 from February 16 to March 15
09.00 – 17.30 from March 16 to last Saturday of March
09.00 – 19.15 from last Sunday of March to August 31
09.00 – 19.00 from September 1 to September 30
09.00 – 18.30 from October 1 to October 24
09.00 – 16.30 from October 25 to December 31


On Monday, January 1st, December 25th
Adult: € 6,00
Free entrance
first Sunday of the month

Appia Antica Card = Terme di Caracalla + Villa dei Quintili/Santa Maria Nova + Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella Combined Ticket (valid for 7 days)
Adults: € 6,00

Archeologia Card = Palazzo Massimo + Palazzo Altemps + Crypta Balbi + Terme di Diocleziano + Colosseo + Palatino + Terme di Caracalla + Villa dei Quintili /Santa Maria Nova + Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella (valid for 7 days):
Adults: € 23,00

ROMA PASS: the museum is included in the Roma Pass