Appian Way & Catacombs (Appia Antica & Catacombe)

Address: Via Appia Antica, Rome, Italy
Telephone:

- Mid-range

4.8

Ancient Rome’s main road to the south is now atmospheric and semi-rural.

One of the great consular roads along which supplies, troops and settlers came and went to reinforce the might of the Roman Empire, the Appian Way is the only highway to have preserved, at least in parts, its original appearance, with wide flagstones, umbrella pines and roadside tombs.

The first part, just outside the well-preserved city 3rd-century-AD gate of San Sebastiano, is still open to traffic, and not great for walking. You’re far better off doing this stretch by bus – either the regular 118 service from Viale Aventino, or the hop-on, hop-off open-top Archeobus which leaves from Stazione Termini every half hour from 8.30am-4.30pm (adult price 15 euros for 24 hours, info at www.trambusopen.com).

If you do walk, don’t continue down the Appia when you reach the church of Quo Vadis – head instead into the gate where the road divides, which will lead you to the Catacombs of San Callisto (www.catacombe.roma.it) along a pleasant car-free path. With their 12 miles of underground burial chambers, these are the largest of Rome’s catacombs; they contain the tombs of five early popes and of Santa Cecilia, the high-born Christian convert who was martyred in the 3rd century and later became patron saint of music.

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano (www.catacombe.org) are a little less impressive, but historically important as the first catacombs, and the place where the bodies of Saints Peter and Paul were hidden following the Emperor Valerian’s persecution of 258.

Beyond here is the most charming stretch of the Appian Way – a great place for a summer picnic.

Value for money
4.8
90%

Price advice

Admission to the Catacombs of San Callisto is 8 euros. Admission to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano is also 8 euros.

Expert tips

Recommended for

  • Families with teenagers
  • First-time travellers
  • Romance

Details