The Old Appian Way is a narrow paved road flanked by rows of graceful pine trees and studded with ruins and ancient tombs. The road runs through an attractive landscape, which has been spared the prolific construction seen elsewhere in the city. With its catacombs and the Quo Vadis Church, the Old Appian Way is also an important part of Christian Rome.
In the early stages it was lined by tombs, owing to a law, already in force in the 5th century BC, which forbid burials within the city. In the Middle Ages the Appian Way became unsafe; members of the Caetani family converted the tomb of Cecilia Metella into a fortress and plundered passing travellers.
The “Domine Quo Vadis” Church recalls a famous legend. While fleeing from persecution in Rome, the Apostle Peter is supposed to have met Christ on the road and asked him, “Domine, quo vadis” (Lord, whither goest thou?)” “To Rome, to be crucified a second time,” replied Christ and disappeared, leaving his footprints on the road. Ashamed for his weakness, Peter returned to Rome and met his death.
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