Madama Lucrezia, located right in front and to the side of the Basilica of San Marco, is one of the five “Talking Statues” of Roma. These are statues on which verses, or comments were hung, by the populace of the city. This is the only one of the five that represents a female. It is an ancient Roman bust, but no-one is certain just who, or what the bust was supposed to represent. The statue takes its name from the fact that it was given as a gift to Lucrezia d’Adagno, who was the mistress of Alfonso d’Aragona, King of Naples.The Fontana di Piazza d’Aracoeli can be found in the tiny piazza of the same name. This lovely fountain was designed in 1589 by Giacomo della Porta. This year, as well as for the last few years, on a chosen Sunday in May, Roma celebrates “Appia Day”.This is a celebration of the ancient Roman road — the Appia Antica. The festivities include tours, food and wine tasting, music, and exhibitions — all free for the day! I had been to the Appia Antica many times before, but never for this special celebration, so I made plans to attend it with a friend of mine, Laura.
The Appia Antica is quite long. It runs from what is now Central Rome, all of the way south, to the city of Brindisi. (If you check out my blog from Brindisi, you will see the columns that mark the end of the road.) On Sundays, the road is always closed to traffic, being reserved for pedestrians and bikes only. Because the road is long, and there is a large section of it that is paved, before you actually get to the ancient stones, and monuments, the city was offering a special bus that would transport people to different spots along the road, for the cost of one euro per person. So, Laura and I agreed to meet at the location where the bus picked people up, at the start of the Appia Antica. The bus was taking on passengers at Piazzale Numa Pompilio, so I made my way over there, arriving a few minutes early. I was glad of that, as it gave me time to explore the immediate area a bit. I was fascinated by an ancient structure, which sat in the middle of the piazzale. This structure is thought to have been an ancient public toilet, built by the emperor Vespasian. The Basilica dei S. Nereo e Achilleo is a 4th century church, dedicated to the two named saints — Roman soldiers who converted to Christianity and were, thus, martyred. We rode the bus until we arrived at the section of the Appia Antica that preserves the old Roman stones, and then we began to explore on foot.Our first stop along the ancient road was the Capo di Bove — an archeological site consisting of the remains of thermal baths that were owned by Herodes Atticus, in the 2nd century. There is never an admission fee to visit this site, so I recommend taking the time to explore it, when visiting the Appia Antica. The Appia Antica was where ancient Roma buried its wealthy citizens. I love walking past what remains of the tombs that line the road.You will find, amongst the tombs, private residences — villas.As we made our way down the Appia Antica, we saw a sign pointing down a road leading off to the right, where a private residence/farm was open to the public for the festival. We decided to check it out. Within minutes, we were walking along open fields, with not a modern structure in sight. Luckily for us, there was shuttle (golf cart), which took the visitors from the Appia Antica to the farm, and the driver stopped to let us on. We arrived at the farm, where we were able to sample home made wine, along with fresh bread and cheese. There was also a demonstration of old musical instruments. We made our way back to the Appia Antica in time to see a troop of Roman soldiers march past.The Complesso Ex-Cartiera Latina, or old paper factory, is now an arts center. For the festival, the space was open to the public, and on the property, in the back, there was live music, bars, and places to picnic.
Next up: a visit to the neighborhood of Garbatella!
Note: this blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please visit the archives to see more from beautiful Roma, plus other wonderful Italian destinations! … Grazie!