By Nahia Peciña
Rome, Nov 30 (EFE).- The Appian Way, a strategically important road built over 2,300 years ago to connect Ancient Rome to the port of Brindisi, is being proposed by the Italian government as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
“It was not only a means of conquest but also of civilization, and it (the Appian Way) brought the Roman way of life and culture to territories under their control,” Unesco archaeologist Angela Maria Ferroni tells Efe.
Italy is working to protect and promote tourism of the emblematic Roman road which starts at the Circus Maximus in the capital and travels south to Brindisi port, once a jewel of the Roman Empire.
QUEEN OF ROADS
The Italian government is so invested in the safeguarding of the national treasure it has appealed directly to Unesco to include the historical road within its heritage list, Ferroni tells Efe.
Normally regions, municipalities, or associations conduct these proposals, but this nomination has been launched and coordinated directly by the ministry of culture, she adds.
According to the archaeologist, over 20 million euros have been earmarked for the Appia Regina Viarum (Appia, queen of roads) project, aimed to research, restore and improve the route linking Rome with Brindisi.
“The Unesco candidacy is a duty of our country, a duty of our ministry to the entire community,” ancient topography professor Giuseppe Ceraudo tells Efe.
Appia’s potential inclusion in the World Heritage List in the summer of 2024 depends mainly on the conclusion of a complex process, which has brought together 74 municipalities, 15 parks, 12 provinces, 4 regions, and 28 ministerial offices.
1,200 KILOMETERS OF ‘GREATNESS’
The Appian Way, located in the southern region of modern-day Italy, has become a time machine for ancient Roman history enthusiasts, who can visit mausoleums, catacombs and many other Roman artifacts.
“The Appian Way is the road par excellence,” Ceraudo says, referring to the more than 1,200 kilometers that make up the road and its sections, Via Claudia and Via Traiana.
The road was built “by the (Roman) censor Appius Claudius in 312 BC to connect Rome with Capua (in the southwest),” the expert explains.
However, the Romans, known for their great conquests, wanted to elongate the road.
After occupying southern regions, the road was extended to Benevento, some 60 kilometers from Capua, to finally reach Brindisi, turning what Roman poet Statius dubbed “the queen of roads” into a key commercial and cultural hub.
THE FORK OF APPIA