Rediscovering the Via Appia with Paolo Rumiz
Journalist and writer Paolo Rumiz has completed a unique journey. One day in mid-May 2015, with a small group of his friends – Irene Zambon, Alessandro Scillitani and Riccardo Carnovalini – he took the Via Appia, which Latin poet Statius granted the famous epithet “Regina viarum” (“queen of streets”).
He walked the whole way, from Rome to Brindisi, some 360 Roman miles, “612 kilometers, 29 days, for approximately one million steps.”
The adventure ended on June 13, 2015, exactly 2.327 years since the day in 312 BC when censor Appius Claudius Caecus inaugurated the works for the construction of the street that over 120 years would become one of the most important engineering projects of Antiquity: the Via Appia, which going far beyond the original plan would reach Salento.
The objective of this secular pilgrimage was to find a path that for centuries has been lost, hidden between “ring roads, car parks, supermarkets and fields to plow”.
The endeavor also yielded a book – “Appia”, Feltrinelli, Rome 2016 – and a photo exhibitions titled “L’Appia ritrovata. In cammino con Paolo Rumiz e compagni” (“Newfound Appia. Walking with Paolo Rumiz and friends”), which will be open until September 18th, 2016 at Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica.
Despite everything, the Appia is still there, and continues to stubbornly “show the way to the heart of the Mediterranean”, Paolo Rumiz explains in his book – “a hotchpotch, a stack of Italian notes where the search for the past firmly plants its feet in the present”, from which we are happy to share a few excerpts.
“The landscape lavished one surprise after the other, offering shifts in perspective that would be unthinkable along the ‘French route’ to Compostela. The Appia outclassed Santiago. It was the shadow of Artemis over Lake Nemi, a dormant volcano crater with a sacred forest where James Frazer set the first episode of his ‘The Golden Bough’”.
“There is the Terracina rock, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea with its Temple dedicated to Jupiter Anxur, a strong and isolated landmark for sailors. And later, in perpetual metamorphosis, the surly ridge of the Aurinci studded with yellow flowers; the dazzling coast of Lestrigonia, between Gaeta and Formia, that inspired Homer’s story about man-eating giants.”
“The arcane Formicoso mountains, with the Appia changing side and offering spectacular views over the South. The bastion of the Vulture seething with Plutonic waters, the Murge burned by the sun, the shady Gravine, and the endless sea of wheat of the Tavoliere, combed by the wind…”