I learned about an opportunity to rent a bicycle and ride down the Appian Way – the Main Street of Rome. My foot injury from too much Costa Rican tennis (for which I still get no sympathy) was still hurting me so riding a bike was also the easy way to get around.
The Appian Way is straight, like really straight. A great road for ox carts transporting goods, Roman armies off for a new country to subjugate, and a splendid place to display crucifictions for mile after mile (which they did after the slave revolt lead by Sparticus). There are some pretty cool tombs and monuments along the side of the road.
I was glad not to be marching in heavy armor, or walking even. Instead I was on a bike! Free at last after walking a painfully for the past month! In fact being on the bike was more thrilling than seeing monuments to dead people. I passed by several ancient catacombs but paused to admire the roadway of all things. It takes centuries of wear and tear to make these depressions in the solid stones that are still preserved on the Appian. Originally made by ox cart the 2000 year old groves are a testimony to Roman technology.
I biked off on several side roads to see the countryside filled with olive groves, sheep pasture, and a few houses. You can’t really tell from the outside how old a house is. Stucco and paint over stone or brick and the old houses all look like they were build within the last century.
About 16 Km in I could see the remains of an aqueduct. It is a great distance away but you can see it on the edge of the horizon. At this point I was off the Appian.I really wanted to get closer but I was getting tired so I headed back. I had arrived about 9 AM. It was now afternoon. The numbers of walkers and bikers had increased dramatically but only for the first few kilometers (and the second half is the best).
The Appian Way is closed to traffic on Sunday except for the few who live in large houses on the other sided of gated driveways. Only a few cars tried to ease past the tourists strolling along. My bike had a bell that I used frequently. There were other bikers with everything from mountain bikes to touring bikes. When the road got really rough we would ride on the dirt paths that edged the Appia.
By the time I got back to Airbnb I was wiped out from pedaling and walking short distances. The Appian Way has an impressive number of just-off-the-road attractions but, again, nothing in comparison with Ostia Antica. I mostly enjoyed a quiet afternoon of biking on one of the oldest roads in the world.