The way he expectorated the name, I thought this must be a branch of Cosa Nostra. Searching it out, I was referred, alarmingly, to Consigliere (!) Lorenzo Quilici. But he is simply the “counselor” for a private environmental-protection organization. To him a big green strip in almost parkless Rome is as important as monuments. He proposes that control of Baldo’s strip, and all state funds appertaining thereto, be taken from the superintendency and vested in an independent commission.
We were talking in the library of Rome’s American Academy, and at this point librarian Lucilla Marino raised eyebrows and said, “When too many roosters sing in the morning, the daylight never comes.”
WHEN CENSOR Appius Claudius began his road in 312 B. c . , he had no such aesthetics in mind. Rome was in process of conquering the Samnites, who held the territory around Capua and Beneventum. Censors were responsible for roads as well as censuses, censoring, and censuring, and Appius Claudius wanted to get a military road down to Capua, 132 miles away, to tie the conquered Samnites into the republic and create a springboard for further conquests.
This became a Roman policy: the road following the legions, until a great network of super-roads laced together a Roman Empire extending from Asia to Africa to the British Isles. By no coincidence, three centuries later the earliest emperors, following Augustus, were mainly descendants of Appius Claudius, and are known to history as the Julio-Claudian emperors.
Appius’s road was extended south and east, after his death, to Brundisium, now Brindisi, touching three seas in its passage: the Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Adriatic. Arriving in the second century B.C., the road transformed that easternmost Adriatic port into Rome’s chief gateway to Greece, the Near East, and all their rich trade.
In A.D. 109 the Via Appia cloned. The emperor Trajan, deciding to bypass a slow, hard-to-maintain section through the Apennines, built the Via Appia Traiana. It ran some 120 miles from Beneventum to Barium (Benevento and Bari now), then 70 more miles down the Adriatic to Brundisium. It saved Roma-to-Brundisium travelers a day out of the 10 to 15 days the trip along the Antica took. The emperor’s couriers, working in relays, did it in six. A good politician, Trajan had his masons carve on the milestones the message that he had built the road for the people “at his own expense.”
Both ancient Appias today are only tatters of a road—snippets of original pavement scores of miles apart, the old bed asphalted over or crumbling to dirt in a Horatian eye-inflaming and joltingly dissestata state (“deranged,” as road signs cogently warn).
But there is still a third Appia, SS (State Highway) 7, the Appia Nuova, and this one Down the Ancient Appian Way is drivable. It runs atop the Antica, or near it, to just beyond Benevento, 125 miles from Rome. There it veers off, not to return to the Appian track till near Taranto.
Nowadays there is lots of traffic in Rome. Tourists come every day and want to visit all attractions in and outside the city. If you need a car when traveling abroad you can consider renting a car. Before that you’d better do car rentals comparison and choose the one that best suits your needs.