Where we had lunch along the Appian

Where we had lunch along the Appian

 

Appian Way

Appian Way

 

Looking south along the Appian

Looking south along the Appian

 

San Sebastiano church and catacombs

San Sebastiano church and catacombs

 

Looking north along the Appian

Looking north along the Appian

 

Miles and miles of burial sites down here that look like this

Miles and miles of burial sites down here that look like this

 

Most people could not read or write so they would draw Christian symbols that can be seen clearly on this stone.

Most people could not read or write so they would draw Christian symbols that can be seen clearly on this stone.

 

Down in the catacomb where Saint Sebastian was first buried

Down in the catacomb where Saint Sebastian was first buried

 

A Bernini sculpture of Saint Sebastian next to his original burial site

A Bernini sculpture of Saint Sebastian next to his original burial site

 

Private mausoleum-type burial sites down in the catacombs for the wealthier families.

Private mausoleum-type burial sites down in the catacombs for the wealthier families.

 

The area where the apostles Peter and Paul were buried for a time - until Constantine moved their remains back to Rome.

The area where the apostles Peter and Paul were buried for a time – until Constantine moved their remains back to Rome.

 

In the church above the catacombs where Saint Sebastian is now buried.

In the church above the catacombs where Saint Sebastian is now buried.

 

A Bernini sculpture in the church

A Bernini sculpture in the church

 

The ceiling - another portrayal of Saint Sebastian.

The ceiling – another portrayal of Saint Sebastian.

 

The Villa and Circus Maxentius ruins along the Appian Way

The Villa and Circus Maxentius ruins along the Appian Way

 

Maxentius ruins

Maxentius ruins

 

A private drive to a villa.

A private drive to a villa.

 

Tomb of Cecilia Metella

Tomb of Cecilia Metella

 

A ruined church along the road

A ruined church along the road

 

close-up of a roadside villa

close-up of a roadside villa

 

The old Rome wall at the San Sebastiano gate

The old Rome wall at the San Sebastiano gate

 

The beginning of the Appian Way from the San Sebastiano gate/wall

The beginning of the Appian Way from the San Sebastiano gate/wall

 

Our hotel is on this street

Our hotel is on this street

 

Our hotel down the street and the water fountain where we fill up our bottles.

Our hotel down the street and the water fountain where we fill up our bottles.

 

Roman wall

Roman wall

 

 

Tomorrow we leave Rome and the day after we leave Italy, so today was our last day of touring in this great country.  So this morning we once again headed to the Metro and got to the main terminal where we found a bus to take us out to the Appian Way.  This is out 4 miles from the Colosseum and past the Rome walls to a stretch of road where the original pavement stones are lined by interesting sights.  This Appian Way was ancient Rome’s first and greatest highway, which once ran from Rome to the Adriatic port of Brindisi.  Built in 312 B.C. it stretched 430 miles.  Along this road are many catacombs since back in those days you could not be buried within the city walls.  The most visited catacomb is the San Sebastiano catacomb. Saint Sebastian (died 288 AD) was an early Christian saint and Martyr.  It is said that he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian‘s persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows. This is the most common artistic depiction of Sebastian; however, according to legend, he was rescued and healed by Irene of Rome. Shortly afterwards he criticized Diocletian in person and as a result was clubbed to death.[1] He is venerated in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  During emperor Valeriano’s  persecusion (258 a.D.) Christians were not allowed to pray on the tombs of the martyrs and of their dear ones; according to a Church tradition they moved the reliquaries of the Apostles Peter and Paul to this catacomb and built a “Triclia” , a closed place in which you could get into by a small stair; it was made of a big arched room with a banquet  for the prayers where, for about 50 years, people could go and honor the reliquaries of the two Apostles.  This is witnessed by some inscriptions (which we were able to still see) dedicated to the two Apostles on the far end wall; they were in Latin and Greek (about 600 inscriptions) and they show the passage and the devotion by the hundreds of pilgrims coming to Rome. The emperor Constantine in the 313, with the Milan edict, proclaimed the freedom of the Christian worship and begun to build the huge basilica apostolorum(the present St. Sebastian church), right above the “Triclia” to honor the place where the two Apostles had been temporarily buried.  The reliquaries were then moved to their original places: the Vatican necropolis for St. Peter and in the cemetery on the via Ostiense (St. Paul). Once out of the catacombs we walked a ways along the Appian to enjoy a bit of countryside.  So much has happened along this road including crucifixions and returning marauding troops marching into Rome.  We stopped at a little countryside café for a Panini and cappuccino.  On the way back we hopped off the bus at the San Sebastiano Gate and walked along the Ancient Rome wall to eventually get back to the Metro.  Emperor Aurelian of Rome in 271 AD recognized the threat from Germanic tribes near the borders of the Roman Empire, and decided it was time to build a wall to protect the city. The Aurelian Wall was originally nineteen kilometers long (twelve miles) and about six to eight meters high (twenty feet). It had 3.5 meter thick walls (eleven feet). The wall included a square tower about every thirty meters (about one hundred feet), 381 in total. It also featured many grand gates – eighteen in total – including the Porta Latina and Porta San Sebastiano which were covered by arches and protected by semi-circular towers. Today, about two-thirds of the Aurelian Wall remains intact and quite well preserved.  So, another full day although not quite over.  Tonight we will find a cute little restaurant to partake of our last glass of Chianti Classico here in Italy!

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