Ancient Appian Way
The Via Appia Antica, ancient Rome’s “Queen of Roads,” is the reason we say all roads lead to Rome. Built in the 5th century B.C., it was the widest and largest road of its time. In its heyday this avenue spanned some 330 miles, running from Rome to the port of Brindisi, on the Adriatic coast, where boats left for Egypt, Greece, and North Africa. According to Christian legend, it was on the Via Appia Antica that Jesus Christ appeared to St. Peter.
The road today is remarkably well preserved, flanked on both sides by fields punctuated with ruins and other vestiges of Roman history, its large flat paving stones polished by millennia of use and weathering.
The ancient tunnels of the Christian catacombs also join up with it along its course and contain the fascinating remains of the beginnings of a culture that was striving to survive persecution. Tumuli, mosaics, ancient paintings and mausoleums have remained to bear witness to the strength and tenacity of a people willing to die for its faith.
It is right on this stretch of the via Appia that you will be able to retrace the steps of Peter who, according to legend, while he was fleeing the persecutory fury of the Emperor Nero, had a vision of Jesus walking towards the city. This was the place and the occasion of the famous question “Quo vadis, Domine” and of the equally emblematic reply which persuaded him to return to Rome and accept his martyrdom.