Friday, September 26, 2008
Via Appia Antica
After a few full days of sight seeing, we were ready to go a little further afield. We caught a bus out to the Appian Way. One of many highways built to provide quick transportation of Roman Legions, the Via Appia was built over three hundred years before Christ.
That thought was certainly in my mind as we walked down the road, dodging cars! Imagine, modern roads require resurfacing and repair every year, yet here we have a road that has been in use for well over two thousand years.
Also in the area is the catacombs of Rome. While they weren't as gruesome as the Parisian variety, with their grinning skulls and piles of bones, the Roman Catacombs were still fascinating. Dug out of the volcanic soil for the burial of early Christians, the extensive tunnels and caverns are amazing. We had a hilarious Indian guide who was not going to take any guff from the tourists. He had mentioned that there was a Roman law that forbade the desecration of any religions graves that was passed in 300 BC. He noted that this law protected the Christians just like everybody else, so that even when the religion was proscribed, the catacomb complexes were safe. One of the tourists took that to mean that the catacombs were from 300 BC.
The guide looked at this guy like he was from outer space, and said "Think about what you are saying.. these are a Christian site, how can it be from 300 BC?!?!"
We went ahead and followed the road back towards Rome, passing by the ancient (I'm using that word a lot, aren't I?) Aurelian Walls, which were built in 275 AD.