Walking the walls at the Porta Appia

I have been awake for 18 hours, 15 of them spent walking. Jet lag and a determination to get some walls under my belt as soon as possible make a beautiful and terrible partnership. I’m going to keep this short, therefore, as I am barely capable of seeing the screen.

Three words: Museo delle Mura. It’s one of those marvelous gems hidden in plain sight inside the gigantic ancient, medieval and Renaissance gate/fortress of the Porta Appia. You walk up to the massive archway and just to the right is a door into a museum. Entrance fee: zero. Just buzz to be let in and up you go.

The contents are limited — a few plaster casts of brick crosses from surviving sections of the walls and gates, plastic models of the phases of construction, a topographical map illustrating the perimeter of the Servian Wall (ca. 4th century B.C.) and the far larger expansion of the city’s defenses built by Aurelian (271-275 A.D.).

The real treasure here is the museum itself. It’s really misnamed. It should be the Museo nelle Mura, the Museum in the Walls, instead of the Museum of the Walls. The modest displays are eclipsed by a truly fantastic wall walk that takes you through four of the surviving towers in the stretch of the Aurelian Wall, later given a second story by Honorius with more arrow slits and a roof.

Wee spiral staircase to the right flanking tower.The interior spaces, particularly in the two massive gate towers, are magnificent, but you will never get a view of Rome and environs like you do from the very top of the right tower. That’s if you dare to take the tiniest, tightest of spiral staircases to get up there, which of course I did because I am a most generous blogger.

Here’s the wall walk seen from above:

Here’s the Appia Antica heading south from the gate:

There’s much more, but that will have to tide you over for now as my moribund state demands sleep.

3 thoughts on “Walking the walls at the Porta Appia

  1. Ah wish we had known about this. We did something similar last year with long walks aiming for the more obscure stuff. Tried climbing Monte testaccio in that area but was closed that day. Enjoy Rome!

  2. When I travelled to Madrid and Paris, both cities I enjoyed the most when I found little treasures hidden from the large tourist attractions. I, too, enjoyed the walking. As my sister (who lives in Europe and is used to.it all) would complain about our not using the underground or a taxi, I would tell her that exploration is best done by foot. Of course our last nighht in paris we walked at 1 am from near the Eiffel Tower (where her friends lived) or our boutique hotel near the gardens

  3. Just heard about the terrible hailstorm!!! 😮 (‘grando’) last night, but keep in mind -after all- it is only a ‘naumachia’ (OK, nowadays with cars instead of ships).

    In antiquity, three principal aqueducts of Rome—the Aqua Anio Vetus, Aqua Anio Novus and Aqua Claudia—had their sources in the Anio/ Aniene valley. In ‘Ab urbe condita’ (Liv. 26 11) Hannibal seems to have had similar problems:

    “Postero die transgressus Anienem Hannibal in aciem omnis copias eduxit; nec Flaccus consulesque certamen detrectavere. [2] instructis utrimque exercitibus in eius pugnae casum, in qua urbs Roma victori praemium esset, imber ingens grandine mixtus ita utramque aciem turbavit, ut vix armis retentis in castra sese receperint nullius rei minore quam hostium metu. [3] et postero die eodem loco acies instructas eadem tempestas diremit. …”

    The following day Hannibal crossed the Anio and led out the whole of his force to battle; Flaccus and the consuls did not decline the challenge. [2] When both sides were drawn up to decide an action in which Rome was the victor’s prize, a tremendous hailstorm threw the two armies into such disorder that they had difficulty in holding their arms. They retired to their respective camps, fearing everything rather than their enemy. The following day, when the armies were drawn up in the same position, a similar storm separated them. …

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