Rome

Via Appia Antica

Now a national park, the Via Appia Antica once stretched all the way to Brindisi and acting as a grotesque warning against rebellion in the Roman Empire.

Stretch your legs

Every city has its quiet, green escapes from the central hustle and bustle of its streets. Rome is no exception. But how many urban parks date all the way back to ancient times? The Appian Way, or Via Appia Antica in Italian, is popular with many pedestrians and cyclists looking for a bit of fresh air and exercise to offset all that pizza and pasta. (Because let’s be honest, if you’re avoiding pizza and pasta in Italy, you’re not doing it right. Best to indulge and work it off here.)

A marvel of engineering

This national park’s age isn’t even its greatest accomplishment. Can you believe this ancient Roman road once stretched all the way across the country to Brindisi? You may have heard all roads lead to Rome, but this is the hard proof. Built in the third and fourth centuries BC, the Via Appia Antica was originally a whopping 350 miles long.

An infamous display of power

More than just a practical means of transport between the seat of the Roman Empire and the southern parts of what is today Italy, the Appian Way eventually became a symbol of the Empire’s ruthless force. In the first century BC, the famed gladiator Spartacus led a failed rebellion among his fellow slaves. Thousands of his followers were crucified on the Via Appia, no doubt as a warning against future revolt.