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Foto: Krien Clevis, 26.03.2018

The Via Appia Antica

The Via Appia Antica was the first ancient Roman road to be built. It was called the ‘Queen of roads’ and stretched from Rome to the harbour town of Brundisium in southern Italy (modern Brindisi). Throughout the duration of the Roman Empire, it remained one of the most important means of transportation and communication within the entire road network. An artery of hundreds of kilometres crossing through the countryside, over lava hills, passing swamps and cutting through rock: it is a unique and true masterpiece of Roman engineering. Between its origin in 312 BC and today, the Via Appia Antica has suffered considerable decay and most sections of it have largely disappeared. The first stretch of the road in suburban Rome is one of the best preserved: 11 Roman miles of this length are part of the so-called Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica, a park that was opened in 1988. From the fourth to the ninth mile, the road nowadays is a green, romantic space with cypresses, pine trees and half overgrown ruins abandoned in the landscape.

In Exploded View we will take a critical perspective on how this road and this landscape have been appropriated throughout the centuries and are literally re-constructed as heritage. In doing so we will reveal how local claims, uses and meanings have, throughout the years, interacted with national ones (e.g. the Appian Way as a national monument, the Park as an environmental reserve) and international ones (the construction of a Romantic ideal attracting Grand Tourists and travelers from the 17th century). While the Via Appia Antica heritage landscape is commonly thought to represent an accumulation of a millennia long history, it is a fact that much of this landscape has been created fairly recently. In revealing these facets, we will operate under the auspices of the multidisciplinary team of the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica, which is a partner in our project and provides all necessary facilities, from expert knowledge on archaeology, history, landscape architecture and environment to the use of the Park’s headquarters, the Ex-Cartiera Latina. 

The headquarters of the park, the Ex-Cartiera Latina, is based in a former Paper Mill. This multi-functional centre of services and hospitality is represented by archaeologists, landscape architects, biologists, botanists, etc. See: http://www.parcoappiaantica.it/home/.