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Appian Way: Tours and Guided Visits

Appian Way was one of the first roads built in ancient Rome and is still well-preserved over 2,000 years later. While it stretched over 500 kilometers in its prime, visitors can still explore several miles of the archaeological site.

The ancient road, called Via Appia in Italian, was once used for military purposes, but is now a tourist hotspot for those interested in classical civilization.

Tours in Appian Way explore the numerous sites scattered along the side of the ancient site, which includes aqueducts and catacombs. If you're a history buff, Appian Way is an unmissable destination on any trip to Rome.

Where is Appian Way located?

Appian Way originally stretched between Rome and Brindisi, which is approximately 540 kilometers south of the city. In the present day, you can still walk part of the ancient road and it's easily accessible from the city.

In Rome, Via Appia starts at the Porta San Sebastiano on the south side of the city, close to the Caracalla Baths. You can take the number 118 bus from the center of Rome to a number of stops along Appian Way.

It's not advisable to travel to the site by metro, as the closest station is Circo Massimo, almost 2 kilometers away.

What are the best things to do in Appian Way?

Catacombs of St. Callixtus

The catacombs of St. Callixtus are located along Appian Way and date back to the second century. These catacombs contain the remains of over 16 popes, as well as countless other dignitaries and clergymen. The site was named after Pope Callixtus I, however, the pope himself was entombed at the Catacombs of Calepodius.

The catacombs are split across five levels and visitors travel to the ancient ruins to see the Crypt of the Popes. The burial site holds the bodies of nine noteworthy pope's throughout the ages. The catacombs were buried for centuries until the site was rediscovered in 1854.

The catacombs are closed to the public on Wednesdays. However, they are accessible between 9 AM and 11:45 AM, as well as from 2 PM until 5 PM every other day of the week.

Circus of Maxentius

The Circus of Maxentius is the best-preserved circus in Rome. Visiting the site is one of the best activities in Appian Way if you’re interested in classical civilizations. It was also the second-largest circus during ancient times, following Circus Maximus.

The landmark was commissioned in 306 and is named after Emperor Maxentius. Although the circus was intended to hold inaugural games, after the emperor’s only son died in 309, they turned funerary in nature.

The site once held 10,000 spectators and it is thought that the circus was abandoned after the death of the emperor in 312. You can still see its two towers that stand at 16 meters tall, and wander the circus that stretches over 0.5 kilometers in length.

You can imagine the original three stories where spectators would watch the chariots race in anticipation.

The archaeological site is free to enter and is open between 9:30 AM and 7 PM from Tuesday to Sunday. During the wintertime, the circus closes at 4:30 PM.

What are the best tours to visit Appian Way?

Ancient Appian Way, aqueducts and catacombs e-bike tour

This is one of the most popular excursions in Appian Way. Instead of walking the ancient road, this tour allows you to travel over 25 kilometers of the way to the Appian Way by electronic bike. It's an easy and enjoyable way to see the many landmarks that dot the historic road without tiring yourself out.

There is plenty to see along the ride, including the Aurelian Walls, Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella and Park of the Aqueducts. This four-hour tour gives an insight into the city and is an excellent way to see an array of ancient ruins in a few short hours.

Pizza and pasta masterclass with wine and tiramisu on the ancient Appian Way

A culinary tour allows you to combine a passion for food and ancient history. The tour lasts for four hours and, in that time, you'll learn how to make traditional wood-fired pizza. On top of this, you'll make two pasta dishes from scratch. Once you've finished cooking, you'll relax with wine and tiramisu before ending the tour.

Appian Way Vespa Rome tour

If you love to feel the wind whipping through your hair, consider a Vespa tour of Appian Way. The excursion heads out of the city towards the vibrant countryside on a scooter stopping at various attractions along the way.

You'll discover ancient Roman life and the uses of the road, as well as visit tombs, catacombs and Circus of Maxentius. A guide will be on hand to talk you through the monuments and provide fascinating knowledge.

Wine and olive oil tour along Appian Way by e-bike

Wine and olive oil tasting tours in Appian Way pull you out of the busy center. The change of scenery allows you to experience the picturesque Roman countryside by e-bike. You'll travel down Appian Way and visit several ancient sites that date back many centuries. These include aqueducts and the Catacombs of San Callisto.

Once you've learned about the history of the area, you'll continue on the tour to a reserve for olive oil and wine tasting. You'll also sample local delicacies, surrounded by Mediterranean olive trees.

What are the prices of Appian Way tours?

Tours on e-bike include rental of the bike, safety equipment and a knowledgeable guide. You can expect to pay around €79 for a tour of this nature.

Food tours in Appian Way include a pizza and pasta-making masterclass. There is also a vegetarian option available. You'll also enjoy tiramisu, snacks and wine. The tours cost around €60.

Vespa tours of the area include scooter rental, safety equipment, a tour guide and insurance. You can expect to pay €189 for a four-hour tour.

Wine and olive oil tours cost €114 per person and last for six hours. The price includes bike rental, safety equipment, a guide and a tasting session of local produce.

Where do Appian Way tours start?

Starting points for tours in Appian Way vary. The most popular tour of the area is via e-bike and, for this type of excursion, you'll usually meet at the rental shop. Other trips such as culinary tours begin at the location itself.

If your tour is on foot, you'll often meet near a public transportation station, such as a bus stop in central Rome.

When is the best time to visit Appian Way?

The regional park surrounding Via Appia closes to road traffic on Sunday, making this the best time to plan a visit to the ancient road. It's worth noting that the Catacombs of San Sebastiano close on Sundays.

The site can get busy during the middle of the day, so if you want to experience the area at its most peaceful, you should visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Spend a few days learning about the ancient city by visiting popular sites such as the Colosseum before taking a journey to Appian Way.

Travel tips

  • If you're participating in one of the culinary tours in Appian Way, make sure you inform the organizers of any dietary requirements beforehand.
  • There are a lot of exciting ancient sites you can see along Appian Way, so bring your camera to capture them all.
  • Appian Way tours take place outside. If you visit during the summer, prepare for the weather with a sunhat, sunscreen and plenty of water.