On Sundays and public holidays, the Via Appia Antica is traffic-calmed. Only local traffic is allowed from 9am – 4pm, with legal summer time 9 am – 6 pm. The Sunday afternoon is therefore particularly well suited for a visit to the Appia Antica. Whether you were in the morning at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, the city center or the Porta Portese Sunday market, the Archeopark of Appia Antica offers a welcome change. You can take a walk, eat well and visit the catacombs.
Unfortunately, the ban is not good controlled and many motorists come up with an excuse to go through anyway, but it’s definitely better than during the week. On weekdays there is too much traffic on the track from the Baths of Caracalla to the catacombs of St. Sebastian and it’s not pleasant on this piece.
There are two bus lines that go through the via Appia Antica, the lines 118 of Piazza Venezia and 218 of the Basilica of St. John.
Both lines stop at the park office of the Regional Park of Appia Antica at the Quo Vadis stop and from there begins a beautiful path with little traffic inside the Catacombs of Calixtus.
The 118 continues on the Appia Antica to the Basilica and the catacombs of St. Sebastian and then on to the Villa of the Quintili. The 218 continues to Via Ardeatina, where there is another stop for the catacombs.
Attention! In the area of the catacombs there is a sign for a stop of the line 118. At this stop the bus goes out of town. If you want to go back to the city, you should go down to the Quo Vadis stop. For line 218 you can also go to Via Ardeatina.
Unfortunately, the 118 runs irregular on Sundays. Alternatively, from Piazza Venezia, take line 130F or line 160. The common stop for 118, 130F and 160 is Teatro Marcello / Ara Coeli. Coming from Piazza Venezia, it’s on the right past the stairs to the Capitol. 130F and 160 stop at Navigatori. From there you have to cross Via Cristoforo Colombo and then follow Via delle Sette Chiese to the Catacombs. The distance to the entrance of the catacombs of Calixtus is just a two-thirds mile.
An alternative to public transport is the purple line of the Hop on Hop Off Big Bus. It offers a ticket for the ride to the Appia Antica bike rental included. With the Premium Ticket and the Deluxe Ticket you can use both the normal Hop on hop off line and the purple line to Appia Antica. City Sightseeing offers in the summer 2-3 trips per day to the catacombs of Domitilla.
It is also very nice by bike on the Via Appia Antica. There are very nice guided bike tours for the park of the Appia Antica and for the park of the aqueducts. You can also go alone, but better book a bike in the city, because the bicycles could all be rented at the park office, at Quo Vadis, on Sunday.
On the Via Appia Antica there are some good dining opportunities.
A first address is L’Archeologia. In this elegant restaurant you can eat inside and out. There are very good fish and fresh oysters and very good meat dishes. The Archeologia often offers regional specialties. The restaurant is opposite the Basilica of St. Sebastian. On You can reserve online.
Right in front of the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is Garden Risto. The garden is very nicely laid out, maybe there used to be a garden center. The restaurant has made a name for itself in recent years. On you can reserve online and often find a discount.
Very family-friendly is the garden restaurant Giulia e Fratelli opposite the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Reviews on . The family also runs the adjoining noble restaurant Antica Roma.
A little further up the road is Trattoria Qui nun se more mai, a restaurant with Roman cuisine and an open Grill. Online reservation auf .
The Via Appia Antica in Rome has been designed, since more than a hundred years, as an open-air museum for a walk. From the tomb of Cecilia Metella there is hardly any traffic, because the road is difficult to drive for cars due to the pavement.
Sunday visit at the Catacombs
If you’re on Via Appia Antica, visiting the catacombs is practically mandatory. The catacombs of Calixtus and the catacombs of Domitilla are open on Sundays until 5pm. Out of the city behind the catacombs of Calixtus is the Basilica of St. Sebastian. The catacombs of St. Sebastian are closed on Sunday.
Sunday visit at the Circus of Massentius
A few hundred meters further on the left is the Circus of Massentius, an ancient racetrack, next to it are the remains of the villa and a mausoleum. The complex is one of the museums of the municipality of Rome and the entrance is free of charge.
Sunday visit to the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella
A bit further is the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, which was expanded in the middle ages a castle with Customs Office. This relict is a national museum, and there is a ticket that is valid also for the Villa dei Quintili. The dates with free admission you find in the museums list.
Sunday walk to Capo di Bove
The Via Appia continues to rise. A few hundred meters after a crossroads, you will come to number 222. Here you will find Capo di Bove, an estate where ancient thermal baths and a second-century villa were discovered. A country house was built on a former Roman cistern. The facility belongs to the National Museums and the entrance is free. In the country house there are changing exhibitions.
The distance from St. Sebastian to Capo di Bove is about a two-thirds mile. From here the Appia Antica becomes rural. After you’ve passed a few villas, the street passes through grassland. The street is modeled on the original street, with lane and side walkways. To the right and left of the road are remnants of tombs and inscriptions.
Sunday walk to Villa dei Quintili
If you continue for two miles from Capo di Bove, you come to the back of the Quintili Villa. After the intersection with Via di Tor Carbone and after Villa Dino, a little further on, on the left side at number 251, there is a kind of back entrance, where you come to the villa of the Quintili via the Santa Maria Nova complex. The villa dates from the 2nd century. It is the largest residential complex of the ancient suburb. The same ticket is valid here as in the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Attention! If the back entrance is closed, you will have to take a long walk back. The villa closes depending on the season between 4 and 7:15 pm, last admission is one hour before. If you leave the villa through the main entrance, you will find a stop of bus 118 which will bring you back to the city center.
The Via Appia Antica can still be walked on for many miles, past Ciampino airport until reaching the village of Santa Maria delle Mole. From there you can return to Rome by train.
Very nice is also the walk back and a dinner in one of the restaurants, which are mentioned here.