In the early centuries of the Via Appia was a very busy road, not only travelers but also by the multitudes of pilgrims attracted by Christian shrines just outside the city walls, which arose in the vicinity of the catacombs where the graves of martyrs and popes were guarded. The catacombs of San Callisto, the largest and most important in Rome, with 19 km of galleries at 20 m deep, or those of San Sebastiano, from which the term catacombs (catacombas, at the cavities, as originally called this site for the presence of tuff grottoes) are real underground cities excavated in tuff, still perfectly preserved, with frescos and tombs belonging to common people and important figures of the past. Around the IV century, however, the Appia began to be affected by the decay that Rome itself had begun; wars and invasions spilled metals and precious ornaments from the monuments; large land was swallowed up and made unattainable by stagnant water; agriculture regressed and spread malaria by abandoning and plundering. This state of abandonment has characterized Appia until the 6th century, when the Church acquired the Roman campaign from the goods of the emperors. From the eighth century the domuscultae were established, small towns scattered among a consular road and the other in order to defend the Papacy from possible enemy attacks, and in order to expand the Christian doctrine among the people of peasants still tied to pagan cults. Already after the year 1000, the small centers of the Domuscultae scattered throughout the Roman countryside began to disappear as the Church, dilapidated by internal struggles, was less and less interested in exercising its power in the suburbs, yielding properties to the great baronial and communal Romanesque families seeking prestigious and eager to live near the important monuments of the Appia Street. The remains of the tombs that continued to drive along the road were reused as towers, places of armed guards which control the territory circostante.Lungo the track and scattered in the countryside are still numerous, evocative ruins of this phase of the Appia life. Between 1302 and 1303, the Caetani family acquired, thanks to the mediation of Benedetto Caetani (then Pope Bonifacio VIII), the rule of Cape of Bove. Located on the 3rd mile of the Appia Street, it included lands, farmhouses and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, and was exploited by the new owners to build a large fortified complex: the Castrum Caetani, still well preserved.Fu Napoleon himself who for the first time, he assumed to design a large archaeological park that should have covered the whole region between the Trajan Column and the Roman Castles. Indeed, until the middle of the nineteenth century, the stretch of Via Appia Antica from Rome to the XI millimeter was still like a country road, the only peculiarity of which was the line of ruined sepulchres. enhance the great catacombs and basilicas of the area systems, Pius IX was to launch a broad recovery plan Appia Antica, so in 1851 work began, the purpose of the project was to arrange the first stretch of the Appian way to the border of Rome so that visitors could stroll along the road admiring the monuments on their sides, a bit like walking through the museum corridors along which works of art are arranged. The first cypresses and pines places along the road were planted at the behest of Rodolfo Lanciani the late nineteenth century, and later Giacomo Boni became interested in planting other pine trees along the promenade, so that the landscape looks today who walks on the Old Appeal is roughly what one could see a hundred years ago.
The Appia Card, is valid one year, is a tourist card that allows free access to:
- MAUSOLEO DI CECILIA METELLA E CASTRUM CAETANI
- CAPO DI BOVE E ARCHIVIO CEDERNA
- SANTA MARIA NOVA
- VILLA DEI QUINTILI