The South of Rome includes the historic Appian Way and nearby catacombs, as well as important tourist attractions in EUR, and San Paolo.


EUR: The Square Colosseum

EUR was built in the first years of the 1940s. It was built in a perfect fascist architectural style, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Fascism (Mussolini came to power in 1922, becoming Prime Minister). Its name means "Esposizione Universale di Roma" (Universal Exposition of Rome); in fact it was also designated to host the International Exposition in 1942, but this exposition didn't take place because of the war.

San Paolo is a residential area not so far from the center. Today it hosts several buildings belonging to the RomaTRE University and a very noticeable piece of art, the "Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura" which certainly deserves a visit. For the rest, it is just a residential borough.

Via Appia, or the Appian Way, was one of the earliest and most important Roman roads. It connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy, primarily as a route for troops and military supplies. The main part was started and finished in 312 BC. The original route can be followed for 10km or so, much with little or no traffic. It is lined with tombs and in places the original stones used for the road’s construction are exposed. The Appian Way passes close to three catacombs, the Villa dei Quintili and many other important architectural sites. If you are in Rome for a week or so, an exploration of the Appia, with a visit to some catacombs, is a great day out! Many photos of what can be seen are available at .

The Catacombs of Rome were for underground burials. Primarily for Christian burials, they were also used for pagan and Jewish burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together. They began in the 2nd century, due both to a shortage of land and for persecuted Christians to bury their dead secretly. The Christian catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano are on the Via Appia and those of San Domitilla are nearby. There are also Jewish Catacombs.

Get in

To reach the Appian Way from Termini station, take the 714 bus from outside the station, and change at the 6th bus stop (St Giovanni) to the 218 bus, which will take you all the way to the main entrance to the San Callisto catacombs and then on to San Domitilla catacombs and the Fosse Ardeatine. The 118 bus, which passes by Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum, will get you to the same entrance to San Callisto and then travels further along the Via Appia as far as Villa dei Quintili and the Capannelle race track. Beware that buses in this area are not very reliable, particularly in the morning or evening rush hours when journeys can be delayed or even arbitrarily cancelled. From the main sites of the Appian Way, consider returning to Rome with a walk through the Caffarella Park, which will bring you to Metro Line A. The Appian Way is theoretically closed to cars, but not buses or cycles, on Sundays and public holidays but this is not being actively enforced by the police.

NOTE: The 118 and 218 buses are presently being diverted and only go to the beginning of the Appian Way. Both can still be used to reach the Fosse Ardeatina (see below) from where it is a short walk to the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian where you can rejoin the Appian Way. The 118 can still be used for visiting the Villa dei Quintili.

Metro line B goes to EUR, with EUR Fermi being the most central station. The line also passes the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura, with the station being named after the basilica.


The Appian Way zone

Transport links to the Appian Way

See GET IN, above. The 118 goes to the catacombs of San Sebastiano before turning off the Appian Way. At the first major junction after Cecilia Metella (see below) by the bar, you can catch the 660 bus (every half an hour traffic permitting), which will connect you with Metro Line A at Colli Albani station. Alternatively, walk down the hill to the Via Appia Pignatelli, where you can catch the 118 back to Rome. A further two km along a pleasantly shaded part of the Via Appia, with many small tombs, and you arrive at Via del Tor Carbone. There you can catch the 765 bus (in theory every 20 minutes). West takes you to EUR and Metro Line B back to Rome at Laurentina station, while east connects you with Metro Line A.

The Appian Way begins close to the Terme di Caracalla and heads in a south-easterly direction. For the first mile it is known as the Via di Porta San Sebastiano but after passing through the Porta di San Sebastiano it becomes the Via Appia. The first three miles are still heavily used by cars, buses and coaches but from then on traffic is very light and the wonderfully evocative road and its many ruins can be explored on foot or by bicycle in relative safety.

The Headquarters of the Appian Way Park is at No. 42. This occupies the site of a former paper mill and some of the original equipment can still be seen. The Church of Domine Quo Vadis is on the second mile of the road by the main entrance of the San Callisto catacombs. Opposite is the visitor office of the Appian Way Park (no. 60) where you can get lots of info and rent bicycles (09.30 to 17.30). From there it is rather dangerous to walk along the road for a mile or so as it is narrow with lots of traffic. Fortunately, there is a more pleasant option, which is to walk parallel with the Via Appia, through the gardens of the San Callisto catacombs (except Wednesdays when they are closed). You can rejoin Via Appia at the third mile where, on the right, are the church and catacombs of St Sebastian. Opposite the entrance to the church is an 1852 memorial to Luigi Canina who supervised the restoration of the Appian Way under the orders of Pope Pius IX. Without Canina's work there would be little to see now.

A little way further on the left is the Circus of Maxentius, the best-preserved chariot race circus in Rome. From there the road climbs slightly to the tomb of Cecilia Metella. After that there is little traffic and, for the fit, the road is straight and can be followed on foot or by bicycle for another four miles or so, with close to 30 small, mainly reconstructed, tombs to examine. Beyond Via del Tor Carbone there are some fascinating ruins but the trip is best done by bicycle as transport back is difficult to find. For lunch there are a few restaurants along the first few miles and a bar near the entrance to San Callisto. Next to San Sebastian there is a small bar and there are two bar/restaurants 200 meters further on the right, almost opposite Cecilia Metella. After Cecilia Metella is the somewhat expensive Appia Antica caffé, where you can also hire bicycles. The restaurant opposite does not seem very tourist friendly. Beyond that there is no source of refreshment without a detour, other than two water fountains and the occasional appearance of a mobile snack bar, both at the junction with Via del Tor Carbone.

The attractions of the Appian Way are described here in the order in which they are found along the road, together with a few detours.

Porta San Sebastiano
Someone is watching you in the garden near the entrance to the Catacomb of St. Domitilla.
A tomb on the Appian Way
The tomb of Cecilia Metella.
Excavations at "Capo di Bove"
Villa dei Quintili

Immediately after Casal Rotondo you can take a left into Via di Casal Rotondo. A short walk down the hill will bring you out at Capannelle, Rome's horse racing course. From there you can catch the 118 (see GET IN above) or take a bus to Metro line A, and back to Rome. For the really fit you can carry on a further three miles or more. At the 8th mile are some ruins originally thought to be part of a Temple of Hercules built by the Emperor Domitian, but now considered to have been more likely a place of rest, or even a factory. Shortly after that is a strange building known as the Priest's Cap because of the shape of its roof. From here it is a short walk to Ciampino Airport from where you can make your way back to the center.

Jogging along the aqueducts.


Model of Ancient Rome in the Museo della Civilta Romana, showing the Colosseum and the Forums.

St Paul's area

Statue of St. Paul in front of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura


Casal Rotondo on the Appian Way





If you plan to spend most of your time exploring the centre of Rome, hotels in this area may limit your options and involve you spending rather a lot of time on public transport.


Go next

Routes through South

Modern Center Esquilino-San Giovanni  W  E  END
END  SW  NE  Aventino-Testaccio Modern Center
END Ostia  SW  NE  Aventino-Testaccio END
END Fiumicino Airport  SW  NE  Trastevere Nomentano
END Modern Center  NW  SE  Frascati/Castel Gandolfo/Velletri END/Albano Laziale/END
Civitavecchia Cerveteri  W  E  Trastevere Modern Center
END Modern Center  NW  SE  Frascati Cassino
END Modern Center  N  S  Latina Minturno
END Modern Center  N  S  Anzio Nettuno

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