Sonic Postcards From the Appian Way
Play • 39 min

“All roads lead to Rome” was once more than a saying; it was a fact. The first of the great roads of ancient Rome, the Appian Way was the most important of them all. Italians still travel what’s left of the Queen of Roads, even if they don’t always know it. National Geographic writer Nina Strochlic and photographer Andrea Frazzetta take us on an immersive trip down the venerable road. The soundscapes they travel through—the voices and vibrations of modern and ancient life—reveal something essential about the Italian identity.

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So, how did the Romans build 200,000 miles of roads? It wasn’t easy. You’ll find out more here in an issue of National Geographic History.

St. Peter fled Rome, so the story goes, along the Appian Way. As he left, he encountered Jesus Christ—resurrected. There is still a church on that site, aptly named Domine Quo Vadis, for the famous phrase St. Peter uttered before he returned to Rome and was crucified himself. You can see Annibale Carracci’s 17th-century painting of the event here.

If going underground and being surrounded by bones doesn’t give you the willies, then you’ll love visiting the catacombs in Italy. Or you can take a look here, and read about why Romans buried their dead this way.

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If your appetite is piqued after hearing about a trip through Italy, you might want to check out what the ancient Romans ate. You won’t find gelato (or a tomato) anywhere in sight. But you might be inspired to re-create a peppery custard. For the truly adventurous, try your hand at recipes from the oldest surviving Italian cookbook, De Re Coquinaria.

If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to to subscribe today. 

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