Terracina - Fondi - Formia - Minturno: Province of Latina
One of the most intact sections of the Appian away is to be found beyond Rome, in the countryside immersed in timeless solitude. The highlight of this unique area is that you will be walking on (or admiring) original stretches of the ancient Appian Way situated between two or 4 ancient towns in the attractive Latina province.
Terracina: the ancient Appian Way climbed over the mountain behind the hill where the sanctuary or 'Temple of Anxur' is visible and visitable. Emperor Trajan changed the course of the Appia by cutting the cliff, called Pesco Montano, still visible today. The ancient city is located high up, while the village built by Pope Pius VI remains at the ancient port of Trajan. The Via Appia entered the city though Via della Stazione, Via Porta Romana and Corso Garibaldi. The watchtower on the Via Appia before entering the Roman circle, from the Republican era, is perfectly preserved. Piazza del Duomo, the ancient city forum, preserves the original floor, part of which consists of the paved base of the Via Appia that crossed it on one side.
Fondi: remarkable Roman walls with large towers. The chessboard plan of the town follows the Roman one. Here, as in Terracina, the Appia crossed the city. There are also notable medieval monuments including the castle of the Caetani and the Colonna. The current road perfectly follows the ancient one up to the Valle di Sant'Andrea. The original stretch of the Appian Way (Corso Appio Claudio) is underneath the present day street, so as you walk along it you'll be walking on top of an important piece of history.
It is possible to continue further, covering the entire Appian Way in Lazio to Formia and Minturno. Although not often open to the public it is sometimes possible to visit 'Cicero's Tomb' in Formia and the 'Roman Cistern', which is normally only open at weekends, and the large archaeological park at Minturno.
If interested in exploring this area with a local guide please visit our 'weekends out of Rome' tours!
Main picture - a typical street scene in Fondi.
SO, you're in Rome because you like all things Italian … BUT just in case you're a Francophile as well and love all of those delicious French things, but won't make it to Paris this time, we have a few places you might like to check out...
Starting with a favourite of ours - French pastries!
(1) Le Carré Français - devine mignon desserts are pure heaven! Sit in, take away or purchase from their speciality shop.
Address: via Vittoria Colonna, 30 close to Piazza Cavour.
(2) Madeleine - love the interior décor and atmos in the style of a Parisienne brasserie. Great choice for vegetarian and gluten free.
Address: via Monte Santo, 64 (closest Metro stop 'Lepanto').
(3) Le Levin Patisserie & Boulangerie - all sorts of tasty wholesome breads and cakes in the heart of Trastevere.
Address. via Luigi Santini, 22 Trastevere.
(4) Quetzalcoatl Chocolatier - a French-Italian luxury boutique chocolate heaven! Try also their eclairs, bigne & macaron.
Address: via delle Carrozze, 26 closest Metri stop is Spagna.
(5) Charly's Saucière - an intimate restaurant not far from the basilica San Giovanni.
Address: via di San Giovanni in Laterano, 270 closest Metro stop is Manzoni.
(6) Comptoir de France - mostly French wines and Champagnes.
Address: via Giovanni Vitelleschi, 20 close to the Vatican.
(7) Va Sano - for French cheeses, wines and croissant. Roughly located between two large city parks - Villa Borghese and Villa Ada
Address: Piazza Buenos Aires, 22 between Villa Ada and Villa Borghese.
(8) L'Eau Vive - if you have a longing for Quiche Lorraine or escargot, this restaurant (run by nuns) is situated inside Palazzo Lante, close to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
Address: via Monterone, 85 near Piazza Venezia.
(9) Argot - not French, but the name 'Argot' is from the French (from the mid 19th century), and denoted the jargon or slang of criminals, so the link is there. It is in fact one of Rome's fabulous drinking dens.
Address: via dei Cappellari, 93 near Campo de' Fiori.
Shops & Other Places:
(a) Libreria Stendhal - a French bookshop in the heart of Rome. Not surprisingly the website is only in French.
Address: Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi, 23 not far from Piazza Navona.
(b) Ecriteau - gorgeous little notebooks and things and some very stylish furniture.
Address: via Gregoriana 50A - between Trinità dei Monti and Piazza Barberini.
(c) Il Museo del Louvre - not really French other than the name but nevertheless has some intriguing pieces inspired by the 20th century such as photographs, postcards and prints.
Address: via della Reginella, 8A - tucked on back streets behind via Arenula.
(d) La Maison Rive Gauche - interior designers.
Address: via Giorgio Vasari, 10 in the area known as Flaminia and not far from the MAXXI Museum.
* Museo Napoleonico - housed inside Palazzo Primoli the exhibits include pieces from the private collection of Count Giuseppe Primoli - great-grandson of Joseph and of Lucien Bonaparte. Giuseppe Primoli belonged to the Roman branch of the imperial family and although he spent most of his youth in Paris (at Napoleon III's court) he moved to Rome after the fall of the Empire.
Address: Piazza di Ponte Umberto I, 1 close to Piazza Navona.
French architecture on churches and other buildings:
The Saint Louis des Français church situated on Piazza di S. Luigi de Francesi. The church was designed by Giacomo della Porta around 1518 and completed around 1589 through the personal intervention of Catherine de' Medici. Reasons to visits: the Contarelli Chapel contains a cycle of paintings by Caravaggio including three world-renowned canvases of The Calling of St Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. Also French State property are the Villa Medici and the SS. Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the Spanish Steps. Palazzo Farnese in the square of the same name (behind Campo de' Fiori) - is headquarters of the French Embassy in Rome but is not French owned, only leased. It is possible to visit Palazzo Farnese through Inventer Rome.
Note: some of the food shops do sell the French speciality foie gras, which we don't agree with personally but felt that it wouldn't be fair to exclude any of them.
We were recently chatting with a young American couple on a 2-week vacation in Italy - a bit of a dream holiday for them, so, understandably, they wanted to pack in as much as possible. They had given themselves a fairly rigorous schedule of an enjoyable yet exhausting whirlwind of all the main sites in several Italian cities (the usual suspects: Venice, Florence, Rome) but confessed that they had been overwhelmed by the richness and abundance of the culture in each of those places and felt like they needed a vacation from their vacation.
Happily, they found us (in actual fact they found us several weeks before they travelled and booked well in advance). Anyway, we whisked them out of Rome early morning on a wonderfully relaxing day trip - exploring at our new 'slower pace'. They tasted excellent wines, enjoyed a lot of delicious local cuisine, learned something of the territory's interesting history, but basically they were happy to chill out and soak up the beautiful countryside and said that it had been exactly what they needed … to get out of the city, breath deeply the fresh air and gaze out upon the stunning panoramas that the day afforded us, without having to think or plan or organise their own travel - a total 'no pressure' day as we did all of that for them.
We are always happy when we make others happy and above all meet or even surpass expectations.
If you think you might enjoy a brief hiatus from cosmopolitan life on your next visit to Rome then why not look us up before you travel to pre-arrange a stress-busting day trip of your own.
View our 'Out of Rome' private tours:
We've decided to include something for the men in this post - fine Italian apparel and where to find it in Rome - in no particular order although many you will find in and around the fashionable Via Condotti just down from the Spanish Steps. Each of these family run companies has a proud Italian heritage that has stood the test of time.
Temperatures in central Italy can be unpredictable around September/October. It could be sunny and even hot or chilly and wet. So layers is the way to go. Thin cashmere tops are good because they're lightweight and pack small into a suitcase but keep you very warm. A fleece or waterproof jacket with a hood would be one of my top choices, which (although I don't like doing this) can be worn tied around the waist if the temperature creeps up. You're also going to be grateful for lightweight waterproof baseball boots or trainers, which provide good comfort for all the walking you'll be doing. I was in Naples recently and forgot my own advice regarding the footwear and I totally underestimated how much walking I'd be doing.
We have a couple of courtesy umbrellas, which we lend to customers on our day trips, but also many of the higher end hotels will loan you one for the day if you ask. For men and women those zip-off trousers that convert into shorts or vice versa are great and look pretty cool. I particularly like Craghoppers.
As part of your survival kit you might like to include mosquito repellent and after-bite since they can be quite aggressive in September.
I've listed my top tips for staying cool at home during high temperatures, based on living in Italy so we have shutters (indispensable) and high ceilings.
How I keep the cat fresh.
The Ancient Appian Way Beyond Rome
The Appian Way, which was built as a military road, starts in Rome, passes through southern Lazio and eventually reaches Puglia: the “heel” of Italy, in the direction of Greece and the Middle East. It’s a route that remained strategic for centuries. The Lazio towns along the route were as follows: Rome, Ciampino, Marino, Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, Ariccia, Genzano, Nemi, Velletri, Cisterna di Latina, Latina, Sermoneta, Sezze, Pontinia, Terracina, Monte San Biagio, Fondi, Itri, Gaeta, Formia and finally Minturno.
The Appian Way (Via Appia / Appia Antica) was first among all roads and, in its day, was the longest, most attractive and most imposing road ever built and for this reason it was named “Queen of All Roads” or Regina Viarum. It was 365 miles long (530km) and took two weeks to travel the entire length.
The poet Stazio, who lived at the time of Domitian, used this appellative in his famous verses:
"FLECTERE IAM CUPIDUM GRESSUS, QUA LIMITE NOTO APPIA LONGARUM TERITUR REGINA VIARUM "
(Anxious to direct his steps where, for a known path runs the Appia, the queen of long roads)
(Statius, Silvae, Lib.II)
As mentioned before, the Appian Way was a military road which facilitated faster communication with the southern borders of the conquered territory. The consul Appio Claudio Cieco was the one who made the road, at the time of the wars against the Samnites in 312 BC, from Rome to Capua, for a distance of 124 Roman miles, using his own personal capital for the construction.
The first section was built from Rome to Capua, but the stretch between Rome and Albano had been in existence for some time. Appius Claudius restored the ancient road as far as Bovillae (Albano) then extended it to Capua, through the Pontine Marshes and Formia, thus diminishing the importance of the Via Latina, which until then had been the main route, and from then on became a simple service route of secondary importance.
The Via Latina (already in use in prehistoric and Etruscan times) whose name is directly connected to the territory through which it crosses (that of the old Latina League, subdued during the fourth century BC), was one of the roads most exploited by the Romans in the conquest of Lazio and of Campania. The Via Latina separated from the Via Appia south of Porta Capena, passing the Aurelian walls through the Porta Latina. It stretched over 200 Km to the south-east, through southern Lazio and northern Campania, crossing the Sacco valley, the Liri valley and along the slopes of the Lepini, Ausoni and Aurunci mountains. It was only later, in 268 AC, that the Appian Way arrived as far as Benevento and on to Brindisi, making it the most travelled road of the Mediterranean.
The road began in Rome at Porta Capena (parte of the ancient Servian walls, between Porta Capena and the Marte hill) although in antiquity it was not called the Appia but the Semita, which meant “sinuous uneven path”, in fact Via di Porta San Sebastiano is still very winding all the way to Caffarella.
It took the name Appia only at the sepulcher of Priscilla, shortly afterwards the road became straight as far as Bovillae, at the foot of the Alban Mountains. From here the road climbed and descended until Ariccia, passing through Genzano, leaving the area with Velletri on the left. The road then continued through the Pontine Marshes on an artificial bank (30 Km of marshland was crossed thanks to incredible reclamation work and road engineering), continuing on through the Appio Forum, passing near Pomezia and on towards the centre of Terracina. Here the road climbed up the hill of Anxur and descended to the plains of Fondi. (the section from Rome to Terracina was almost 90 Km of straight road). The road continued through Liri (now Garigliano) and Minturno, then, leaving modern Lazio behind, it reached Sinuessa, then Volturno, Casilinum, and finally Capua.
Fourteen years after the beginning of the works (in 298), Tito Livio informs us that the Appia extended to Porta Capena at the Clivio di Marte and that it had been paved with polygonal blocks of basalt or lava. After three years (in 295), the route had extended from the Clivio di Marte to the ancient city of Bovillae.
The prefect Caio Gracco erected milestones showing the distance from the city. He built the viaduct of Ariccia and expanded the paving. At the time of Caesar and under Augustus the road was paved up to Capua, and shortly afterwards the rest of the way to Brindisi.
Via Latina (what to see):
Rome: Porta Latina, is among the most impressive and best preserved among the original doors of the entire city walls and its name derives from that of the homonymous street that crosses it and that, in Roman times, led to Capua.
The archaeological park of the Tombs of Via Latina is one of the most important funerary complexes of the suburb of Rome which still preserves the traditional aspect of the ancient Roman countryside.
Ferentino: the city walls remain intact for 2.5 km (pre-Roman and Roman walls with medieval alterations) around the centre of the town and the gates are spectacular, including that of S. Agata: here passed part of the Via Latina, which ran the entire length of the city as the main axis of the urban structure with east-west direction.
Aquino: The road reached Aquino where, leaving the village, it passed through the Republican doors (still well preserved) and under an honorary arch (from the 1st century BC) near the church of S. Maria d'Aquino; for 300 m of this stretch some remains of the ancient paving are visible.
Via Appia (what to see):
Rome: Appia Antica Park
From Frattocchie to Albano: the Appia coincides with the SS7 Appia state road. On the right are the remains of the ancient Boville (Bovillae), while on the left there are two sepulchres. The most important ancient monuments of Albano: the Porta Pretoria and the Mausoleum of the Orazi and Curiazi.
Terracina: The ancient Appian Way climbed over the mountain behind the hill where is the sanctuary of Anxur (visitable). The emperor Trajan changed the course of the Appia by cutting the cliff, called Pesco Montano, still visible for those travelling along the coast. The ancient city is located high up, while the village built by Pope Pius VI remains at the ancient port of Trajan. The Via Appia entered the city via Via della Stazione, Via Porta Romana and Corso Garibaldi. the watchtower on the Via Appia before entering the Roman circle, from the Republican era, is perfectly preserved. Piazza del Duomo, the ancient city forum, preserves the original floor, part of which consists of the paved base of the Via Appia that crossed it on one side.
Sperlonga: here starts the Via Flacca, for Gaeta and Formia, a coastal variant of the Appia, built by L. Valerio Flacco in 184 BC, which passed through Sperlonga, near the ruins of the villa of Tiberius.
Fondi: remarkable Roman walls with large towers. The chessboard plan of the town follows the Roman one. Here, as in Terracina, the Appia crossed the city. There are also notable medieval monuments including the castle of the Caetani and the Colonna. The current road perfectly follows the ancient up to the Valle di Sant'Andrea.
Formia: Tomba di Cicerone, is located along the Via Appia towards Rome at Km. 139. The mausoleum dates back to the Augustan age and even today the attribution of the sepulcher to Cicero remains doubtful, even if some clues confirm this hypothesis, such as the presence of one of its grandiose villas.
Minturno: archaeological area. Set on a hill overlooking the seaside areas of Scauri and Marina di Minturno, it has very ancient origins. Its settlement, built along the Via Appia stretch, stretched on the right bank of the Garigliano river (ancient Liris).
This post first appeared in the Laran Tours Spring/Summer Newsletter.