The weekend after Morocco I went to Rome, a place I should find myself more often, because its so close to Naples. I went with the intention to see Brazilian Flora dancing and truthfully didn’t see one Brazilian Flora dance move, not even a twirl. Waking up after drinks on the top of the Ritz Carlton and a very late dinner wasn’t easy, but Saturday was up for grabs and I was able to coax everyone into committing to the plan I had dreamed up all along, biking the Appian Way with lunch at a restaurant I had been recommended. Shhh, don’t tell ’em! 😉
THE APPIAN WAY
As one of the most strategically and earliest roads built, the Appian way stretches from Rome to Bridisi Italy. Built in 312 B.C. its purpose was mostly military minded. A much easier way to move troops in and out of the smaller suburb areas. The road was significant in Spartucus’s escape from Capua. My favorite fact about it is that the Appian Way is the only road that has the destination written as you leave Rome, whereas all other roads “lead to Rome”, so there’s no need to tell where they are headed.
It’s not hard to find a bike rental. We were dropped off at the restaurant I’m going to tell you about and within 5 minutes walking we were able to find the perfect place to rent bikes and be on our way.
For 3 euros an hour you can bike to your heart’s content until you reach 14 euros at which point that’s the fixed price for renting a bike the whole day. Very easy to use, you just walk in, tell them what you want, and off you go.
First biking up towards the Catacombs we wanted to see what were through these gates. At the same time as the biking, a coworker from the office told me about a restaurant called Hostaria Antica Roma, which apparently has a to die for Lasagna recipe that’s centuries old. As in, older than the founding of ‘Merica. Say What?! We got dropped off over there and made a lunch reservation and then it was off on the bikes for an hour before we had to be back!
It was so easy to let all your problems wash away and develop a carefree attitude with the sun shining down. Instantly in good spirits, I was happy for the beautiful afternoon.
Because its pretty off the beaten path there aren’t too many tourists running all over the place. They are headed to the catacombs but as far as biking on the road it was leisurely and we were able to go at our own pace.
This estate probably costs a fortune. It sits up by the catacombs in quite a beautiful location.
Alex has some pretty sweet tricks he can perform on a road bike. 😉
CATACOMBE SAN CALLISTO
Just up here is the entrance to Catacombe San Callisto, which we had seen on the route. Dubbed the Official Cemetery of the Church of Rome, there are 16 popes buried here as well as many martys and Christians. As an idea of how many people are laid to rest, this Catacombe expands over 90 acres, has galleries that extend 12 miles long, 4 levels high, and 20 meters deep.
We didn’t have time for a look around, but at least we know where to come back to if we want.
Turning back now our stomachs were grumbling loudly and we couldn’t wait for some lunch!
“Punch buggie Punch bug, no punches back!” Vintage addition.
The line of trees up here made me feel like I was biking to an estate down South, like in the movie “The Last Song”.
HOSTARIA ANTICA ROMA RESTAURANT
Abandoned for centuries, the Magnanimi family has tried to turn this place into a restaurant of historical significance. Located right along the Appian Way, it is ABSOLUTELY a must stop if you are in the area.
The restaurant is made into the ruins, where you get to dine and fall back into time a bit, with delicious food!
Our waiter, one of the owners himself ^. John, my coworker told me to let him choose all the appetizers for us when we went. When the chef chooses the menu I rarely have any complaint so we did just that. “Bring out the food at your leisure.” 🙂
The lasagna recipe is to die for. There were 5 of us at lunch and 4 of us got the lasagna. I felt obligated to, and for good reason. With a recipe a couple of centuries old, I have to see what it’s all about. So good!
Pumpkin on a vine, needs a little support.
BACK TO THE BIKE RIDE
After we were thoroughly stuffed and had licked our plates and fingers clean, we headed back to the trail. This time, instead of to a dead end, we jumped right on the Appian Way and headed out of town.
The road has all kinds of ruins built right next to it. Pieces from a castle or large estate jut out at odd angles as they are missing most of the areas that complete them, but you can only wonder what it must have been like back when these ruins were whole once again.
Just riding on the cobbles lets you fall back in time. The road is wide and clean but very bumpy as you make your way along it. As you enjoy the scenery, ruins, blue sky and sunshine of the day, also be ready to stop often to put the chain back on your bike. These roads weren’t made for the weak of heart.
See what I mean? This happened to each of us a couple of times along the way. You might want to pack an old rag for the grease that will get all over your hands, or just find a good leaf.
There are tours that take you on bikes through the ruins and explain what each one was, with the history. For me, I enjoyed just leisurely biking by and making up my own stories. I feel like it would be a bit annoying to stop every 2 feet to learn about the history. So I slowly made my way by one ruin, appreciated it, and then was on my way to the next one.
Besides, there’s plenty of information in books if you know where to look.
See, the road itself isn’t very crowded, especially as you head out of the city.
My favorite shot of the day!
Those 2 standing over by that column were rubbing charcoal on paper to get some of the inscriptions, probably to examine later.
One of the cleanest roads I’ve seen in Italy, but remember, I’m coming from Naples.
Photo shoot for a restaurant, an invitation, or something like it. Just after we turned around to head back. I could have kept going for a little while longer but we did have plans for the evening and a dinner reservation to get back to.
Biking down I didn’t stop very much for any photos, I was so caught up in the time and place and just let everything else slip away. On the way back I pulled my camera out of my back pack and looped it around my neck so I’d be able to stop occasionally for a few snaps.
Last one of a castle before we headed back down the road by the restaurant to drop off our bikes. Afterwards we stopped for a beer, had a conversation of questions and answers and then hopped into a taxi to zip us straight back into the hustle and bustle of the city.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.
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