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Itinerary on the Via Appia from the canale delle Acque Alte to Borgo San Michele through Epitaffio and Tor Tre Ponti

The road Appia, state road n°6, coinciding with the way created in 312 a.C. by Appio Claudio, crosses Latina municipal territory in the portion turning towards the hills; from the road Appia different links to the town branch off, the most direct ones are the Latina - Latina Scalo road called Epitaffio and the state road n°156 of Monti Lepini that uses the Migliara 43.
The road Appia was the first military road and indicated with different appellatives( insignis, nobilis, celeberrima, regina viarum etc.), it linked Rome to the Adriatic Sea, real bridge towards the East. Its originary military function calls to memory the Roman Conquest of the South: first the war agains the Volsci, then and above all one against the Sanniti. The road Appia crossed the Pontina Plain ( in alternative to the road Latina along the Sacco Valley), without touching the ancient preexisting centres, because in this way it fullfilled the front war needs more directly. The road covered 30 km of pontina plain until Feronia at the foot of Monte Leano near Terracina, with an almost perfect straight stretch built through segments and this was made possible only building hydraulic works which influenced a much wider territory than the one occupied by the arterial road. This straight stretch is oriented to 45° compared to the north-south axis that was assigned to the farmers of the Pomptina and Oufentina tribes. There are some literary and archaelogical witnesses of the "centuriazione" on these roads, for example the one by Cicerone for the way going from Tres Tabernae to Antium or those documented by the remains emerged around Valvisciolo-Caracupa, Chiesuola-Borgo Piave, Tor Tre Ponti and S.Fecitola and more towards the South in Mesa and in Pontinia.
The road Appia, remained us thanks to the frequent land reclamation interventions of the feudatary, rich landowners and Popes, represented also one of the ways which allowed the pilgrims to reach Rome. Between 1750 and 1850, after the land reclamation by Pio VI realised after the project and under the direction of the hydraulic engineer G. Rappini, the ancient road was reactivated as a public road ( Postal Service ) and this meant the discovery and the repair of several roman manifactures. The road and ruines suggestion, met along the way, inspired writers, poets and painters: from Labruzzi to Piranesi, from Raffaello to Byron, Sthendhal and Goethe, from the painters "In Arte Libertas" and "I XXV della Campagna Romana" to those of the group "I maestri di Terracina".
The most recognisable ancient structures belong to the II-I century a.C. and especially in the stretch included in the municipal territory. Nerva, Traiano, Caracalla, Settimio Severo, Costantino and Teodorico repairs are also documented. The most cospicuos number of remains concerning old villas, hydraulic works, tombs, sacred buildings and facilities are situated near the road and the linking roads from the coast to the hills.
The old cart seat was 14 feet large in a depth between 2 metres and 4 metres, compared to the actual road, this measure made the simultaneous passage of two carts possible; to this measure one had to add other 4 metres for the side walks; after the ploughing of the fields, which side the road, tomb fragments belonging to the road-bed or to the embankment often emerge. Every mile was signalled by a cylindrical stone reporting the distance from Rome ( Porta Capena ) and the name of the magistrate or the emperor under whose government the repair had been carried out. Being a state road, the Appia road was marked by the Post Stations: from the simpler mutationes to the more complex mansiones, which in the municipal territory corresponded to Tripontium ( nowadays Tor Tre Ponti ) and Forum Appii ( nowadays Borgo Faiti ). The emerging remains belong to the hotels, to the stables, to the workshops to the local sanctuaries, to the thermal baths or to other facilities along the road built for the intense passing and distribuited every 7-9 or 10-12 miles. Horatio ( Satire 1,5 vv 3-23 ) describes a stop exactly in these structures: water, mosquitoes, a drunk boatman singing, the insults between the helmsmen and servants and he remembers how in the Forum Appii-Feronia way, called Decennovio because of its 19 miles lenght, the travel was still possible even on sandals carried on the canal parallel to the road. Later Procopio ( De Bello Gotico 1-15 ) remembers that in 536 d.C. the Appia was still perfectly preserved and that the Goti elected Vitige in Regeta, a place situated along the Decennovio way and characterised by fertility of its pastures.
The Appia trait which interests Latina territory starts at km 59 from Rome beginning from the canale delle Acque Alte soon after Tres Tabernae Statio and the branch-line towards Norba, after the XXXIII milestone. The Acque Alte bridge was built after the total land Reclamation composed by three round arches with a technique which reminds of the arches ashlar one. A tombstone witnesses the Appia Road repairs by the roman consul Cornelio Cetego ( 160 a.C.) by Teodorico ( 454-526 d.C. ) and by Pope Leone X ( 1513-1521 ) Sisto V ( 1585-1590 ) and Pio VI ( 1775- 1799 ). Cetega ditch is linked to the name of C. Cetego, projected to help the flow down of the stagnant waters towards the sea and it is now identified as the Linea Pia canal ( so called because of its restoration under Pope Pio VI ), nowadays known as Rio Martino: the first parallel to Appia, the other one which overcomes the Quaternary dune towards Fogliano. The Acque Alte bridge even signs the point from which the ancient branches for Castellone ( Tiberia ), for Norba, for Ninfa started; they granted the passages towards the south when the Appia was impracticable; in fact, until 1781 this was called Consolare Road was used. The works concerning Pio VI's land reclamation will be carried out from 1777 to 1784 and started from the bridge area, giving the opportunity to pass again on Appia road creating the "migliare" ( a system of canal-roads orthogonal to Appia). When the ancient road was found out the nearby inhabitants were amazed for the bridges and for the perfect execution of the road-bed, but the so much admired work was buried again because it was used as a base structure for the new road after the deforestation carried out after 1778.
To shade and to consolidate the straight- stretch side paths later some pine-trees and some poplars were planted and the area became populated again.
The first two roads on the right drive to Borgo Carso ( the old Caetani's estates of " La Botte" and "Piscinara") founded in 1932 and characterised by buildings built around a public garden. The late XIXth century church is sided by the farm buildings of the land reclamation which will be found in all the villages of new foundation: the workmen clubs, the offices, the school, the store house, the pantry, the water tank, etc.
Borgo Carso was built near a settlement which was probably contemporary to the road Appia construction, as the recent finding in a late republican villa witnesses, and whose working side has been discovered ( a mill and some basins ).
The road on the left instead drives to the airport and to Doganella, ex working village dating back to Piscinara's land reclamation, so called to reminds us of the function of custom that the place had during the previous centuries; the village holds some buildings preceding the total reclamation.
Carrying on the Appia road after the Collettore delle Acque Medie built by the Consorzio of Piscinara's reclamation, we are at km 63 Casale delle Palme, called before the reclamation "Porcareccia dei Caetani" by the name of the old landowners.
The XIXth century building which is along the road on the right was the seat of the first sanitary ambulatory and in 1910 gave hospitality to the first school for farmers in the marshes.
The initiative is due to Angelo and Anna Celli, to Sibilla Aleramo, to Alessandro Marcucci and Giovanni Cena. First it had its place in a school-hut built by the farmers of the marshes themselves to whom the awareness of their right was proposed; after G. Cena's death and elementary and agrarian school was built, it was gifted with an experimental field on the group opposite the Casale. It was dedicated to the teacher and designed by A. Marcucci and D. Cambellotti who took care of the furniture and decorations, unfortunately lost during the last war. Only some monocrome bowls and a tombstone with a dedication and the symbol of the School for the farmers of the Pontina land remain to show the architectural structures.
Since the last war no trace has been found of the two triptychs by D. Cambellotti representing the Pontino environment ( the Canale Linea, the horses, the buffalos, the Circeo Promontory, the pine etc.)
Going on from Casale delle Palme the Appia crosses a lower territory than previous one, called Piscinara, which during the last century, was often under water for several months of the year almost until Cisterna.
These floods, which denounced the unfulfilled land reclamation works made under Pio VI, were due to the fact of having overloaded the canal parallel to Appia with all the waters contained in it and in the hills. In the first decades of the last century a particularly violent flood of the Teppia destroyed that reclamation and even cultivated territories became marshes.
A road on the right brings to Borgo Piave through the place Chiesuola, an area rich of roman remains as the ploughing works often emphasize. The name of the place, originally Borgo Tagliamento, derives from the church dedicated to S. Carlo, whose remains were visibles since the first year of the XXth century. Traces of an ancient branch of the Appia have been found, as the remains along the path, maybe used by an ancient republican villa or as a crossing of the plain witness. The rare remains in the area kept in the Aeronautical centre, in Borgo Piave at the Officer's Circle. In S. Luca road, nearby Fosso Fuga degli Ebrei, other remains of living structures can be found. This place reminds in its name of the massacre of Cori Jews happened in the XVIth century.
A commemorative monument of Pio VI reclamation called Epitaph, was erected at the 65th km of the Appia, near the crossroads Latina - Latina Scalo, and this gave the name to the place and to the part of the road which drives to Latina.
Deviating instead on the left you arrive at Latina Scalo, ex working-village ( from Valvisciolo to Monticchio the limestone for Littoria's construction, was extracted), later seat of the railway station on the Roma-Napoli way. Latina Scalo area is also crossed by a parallel roman road called Setina Road, coming from Velletri and coinciding in some parts with via del Murillo, as it result from some remains of the ancient road pavement. One of the rare procoi of the Pontina plain is visible in via della Gloria ( unfortunately damaged ): it is a circular building which reminds in its shape of the protohistorian huts and those built on the model of the previous ones with manure and clay and used until the last century for the dairying. The name "La Gloria" reminds of a monkish settlement, frequent phenomenon in the marsh because the reclamation, engaging people in the maintenance of the road and hydrographic ways, granted the possession of the land in return. This is why there were "private" reclamation attempts, the oldest of which is documented by a wall engraving in Mesa and this remembers how the patritian Decio ex-prefect of Urbe, at Teodorico times repaired the Decennovio from Tripontium to Terracinab and had lands on both sides of the road in return. Latina Scalo railway station, designed by the architect A.Mazzoni between 1932 and '37, is an interesting demonstration of the architecture of the 30's, and it is nowadays being restored. Only some ceiling light and some pieces of furniture remain of the original decorations.
Coming back on the Appia at 66 km, before Tor Tre Ponti, a column on the right celebrates the merits of Pio VI reclamation with the engraving NUNC AGER PONTINUS/ OPUS PII P.M. 1793/ OLIM PONTINA PALUS which anticipates part of the writing appearing on Latina's ensign.
Borgo Tor Tre Ponti is at km 66,4, in its name remind us of a medieval tower destroyed during the reclamation, and of three roman bridges which allowed Appia to ovecome an area extremely rich in waters deriving from Ninfa and from the founts in Sermoneta's. It is the richest place for historical witnesses, as the presence of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and architectural ones as, for example Saint's Paul church or the very rich fishponds derived from the canals near to the road using very often materials from the road Appia sidewalks. Saint Paul's church emerges behind the surrounding plain. This was built on the remains of an ancient medieval monastery after the project of the papal technician F. Navone and of engineer G. Rappini for the part concerning the monastery, the tavern inn and the Post Office. The church is characterised for the sober and fair volumes so typical of the end of the XVIIIth century; it keeps an altar of 1572 given by prince Gaetano Caetani after the destruction of S. Anthony's church in Cisterna. In the portico an inscription is kept to remind of Pio VI's will to build up the whole building in memory of the apostle Paul so that the pontini farmers could have the confort of the religious pity. Cardinal Camerlengo Rezzonico's Edict of July 27, 1784 stated the new way of the postal road for Naples, as a matter of fact, to the way for Doganella-Sermoneta-Acquapuzza-Sezze-Case Nuove-Piperno, a new itinerary along the Appia was substituted: So the Post-Office, a civil building, and the storehouses sides the church and the enclosure of the old lazaretto. In the garden, in front of the church two miles-stones are kept. They are in memory of Appia repair works started at Nerva times and endend by Traiano and of those finished under Costantino.
Going on for about half a km where the road slightly low down, after the crossroad between the Appia and the road which brings to Latina through S. Fecitola village, you can find, at km 67,1 a roman bridge which overcomes the Ninfa-Sisto river. It is the historical river which takes its origin in Ninfa; called until 1586 Ancient River or Ligula, it was later called Sisto by the name of Pope Sisto V to whom important reclamation works are due. These works involved the whole area crossed by the river bed, which flew in Torre Olevola and, after the total reclamation, between Badino and the homonymous tower. Ninfa-Sisto river, which today crosses the Appia where there have not been important changes, has been the only way of access in the pontino territory since centuries, being navigable until 1890. The two arches bridge that overcomes it, called Traiano Bridge, has been built in a square work in the 5 metres of light and third polygonal way in the supporting lateral wall; a stone on the top of both sides reminds of the accomplishment made by Traiano of the works started by Nerva. Another one arch bridge is visible just before Traiano Bridge. It is smaller than the previous one and it overcomes the Striscia; it is a minor canal and it passes through an area in which the frequent finding of archaeological fragments make the hypothesis of a roman settlement true. After the two bridges on the left some remains of Appia's supporting structure are visible and there is a stone reminding of Traiano's interventions of repair.
In the XVI century the way between Tor Tre Ponti and Forum Appii was particularly populated by brigands ( Aguzzeto di Sermoneta is still kept in memory ) and in order to allow the road visibility or to avoid the sudden arrival of brigands, some decrees on the matter obliged to kept the sides of road Appia free from trees for at least 200 m inside.
The buildings on the two sides of road Appia at km 72,4 correspond to Borgo Faiti, the ancient Forum Appii; on the left the XVIIIth century buildings of the Post Office, on the right those built for the Borgata Rurale by the O.N.C. in 1935-'36. The ancient Forum Appii was surely grown thanks to the deviation for Setia ( Sezze ) and from simple "forum" it became an important market and linking centre as Horatio remembers in the above quoted Satire. The apostle Paul stopped in this place in 61 d.C. during his travel towards Rome ( Apostles Acts chap. XXVIII). Just before meeting the XVIIIth century buildings a one arch bridge overcomes that Cavata built in square work and polygonal on the sides: in the same area on the right side of the road there are some visible remains of the Appia banks. Exactly from there the old road took the name of Decennovio and it was sided by the canal navigable until Feronia. The idea of building the Canale Linea Pia, which collects the waters from both sides as said before, has been suggested to G. Rappini by Pope Pio VI himself, because of the charm that the Romanity had.
Going on towards the milestone XLIII replaced according to the positions of the previous and the following ones, on the left it is visible a quadrangular stone reminding of the work that Nerva and Traiano carried out, while soon after the milestone there are some remains of the ancient banks of the embakment ( 15,8m large ) on which the paved road stood ( 4,2 m large ). At the big crossroads called la Storta the Appia is crossed by the Monti Lepini road, the state road n.156 which links Latina and Frosinone passing under Sezze and in the Amaseno Valley. The ancient building on the left at km 76, in Bocca di Fiume place, was a farm built during Pio VI's works and used as a storehouse of the Post Office. The toponym reminds of an ancient fishpond obtained along the canal at the mouth of a river now silted up. The Zanelli symbol and a stone indicate the ancient owners of the farm and remind of the farm and remind the work for the reclamation, witnessed even by the milestones put in 1793 at the end of Pio VI's reclamation, on whic the name of the executor is still visible: the roman stone cutter Maestro dell'Oste. Deviating on the right through a bridge on the Linea, and driving along Migliara 45 you arrive at Casal Traiano, a complex realised in 1925 as the stone, put at the entrance by Marchese G. Ferraioli says. The Ferraioli, landowners present in the area since the last century, demanded the place and made the initiative by G. Cena in Foro Appio possible in 1910, hosting a school for farmers, the third instituted along the ancient road.
If you go on crossing the State road n.148, you are introduced to Litoranea road and from this one to the Lungomare. If, on the other side, you keep going on Migliara 45, after having overcome the bridge on the Canale delle Acque Medie, which in the lower part is called Rio Martino, ( an artificial ancient canal ) on the right towards Latina you cross Borgo S.Michele, sided by the State road n.156 that here links Latina and Appia. Born in 1929 in Capograssa place as a working village, built by consorzio della Bonifica di Piscinara, Borgo S.Michele hosted the houses of the workers who dealt with different construction sites and in particular those for the Canale delle Acque Medie and of its introduction into Rio Martino. The Borgo keeps the church, the waterworks tower in neo-Romanic style, the school-clinic and several other buildings of the first settlement.