Appia Road Segment 03

From FRATTOCCHIE (Bovillae) to ARICCIA (Aricia)


The locality of Frattocchie (Bovillae) lies on a very ancient site at the confluence of the ancient Cavona road, which led from the Sabina region to the sea, and the progenitor of the Appia road, the Albana road, which existed before Rome to connect Alba Longa, today’s Castel Gandolfo, which was an important crossroads of sacred cults, to the river Tiber.

With the destruction of Alba Longa in 667 BC, sacred cults moved to Bovillae, which therefore assumed such a central role that it also involved the Gens Julia, Julius Caesar’s (100 BC-44 BC) family clan.

In imperial times Bovillae expanded with villas and new residences now buried under the new except for the remains of the circus of Emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD).

Still in a straight line, past Frattocchie, the Appia road, overlaid by the SS7 – the modern Appia road, continues uphill to Albano. Here and there we find sepulchres and engineering works to protect the stability of the road in hilly and volcanic terrain.

Before arriving in Albano, we can enjoy a very wide panorama sweeping from the city of Rome to the sea and thus imagine what a grandiose natural spectacle could be seen from the numerous Roman villas built in the area (Domitian, Pompey, Clodius, the Antonines…).

In this stretch we find, in addition to the villas, two monumental sepulchres, one known as ‘di Clodio‘ and the other known as ‘di Pompeo‘. The latter lost about 16 metres in height due to a World War II bomb.

In the city of Albano (*) there are archaeological remains and an interesting civic museum.

Before its foundation, the Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 AD) established the Castra Albana, a military camp for the 2nd Parthian Legion to defend Rome. It was only later that the civilian population that settled next to the military camp benefited from the situation, and after the camp was closed, it developed considerably.

The Appia road crosses the entire town and the Porta Pretoria, the main entrance to the castrum, and the entrance to the public villa, which preserves remarkable vestiges of the villa known as ‘di Pompeo‘, overlook it.

Following the current road we would reach Ariccia (Aricia) on a high viaduct built in 1853 by Pope Pius IX. Instead, to continue on the modern Appia road we must take a hidden fork to the right to enter the valley of Ariccia (Aricia), an ancient dried-up volcanic lake.

On the descent to the valley we encounter another sepulchre, commonly known as ‘degli Orazi e Curiazi‘, with a large quadrangular base and singular conical elements placed at the four corners. Since another sepulchre known as ‘degli Orazi e Curiazi‘  is located at the fifth mile, some scholars have recently hypothesised that this latter monument may be the tomb of Porsenna‘s son, Arunte, who died during the battle between the Aricines and the Etruscans in 504 BC.

Opposite the monument is the Church of Santa Maria della Stella, built over the catacombs of San Senatore.

(*)  Albano worth a visit.