The area between Piazza Porta Capena and Piazzale Numa Pompilio represents the heart of a vast archaeological area that begins at the Roman Forum, passes Circus Maximus and the Baths of Caracalla and leads to Porta San Sebastiano and the Ancient Appian Way.
The Archaeological Walking Tour
The grand archaeological structures of the area are centred around the majestic ruins of the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla). The boulevard which takes its name from the structure creates the principal axis for the so-called "Passeggiata Archeologica" (Archaeological Walking Tour) and this tour.
The road, along with its continuation via di Porta San Sebastiano, follows the urban remains of the Appian Way. The Appian Way had its origins at the ancient Porta Capena of the so-called Servian Wall and was flanked by many sepulchre, which are still visible today.
After the end of the Imperial age, some important convents such as Santa Maria in Tempulo, San Sisto Vecchio, Santi Nereo e Achilleo and San Cesareo were built along this road. These structures often performed the task of welcoming pilgrims from the southern regions of the peninsula.
During Medieval times, it was these centres that maintained life, although somewhat in a state of neglect, on this extreme border of the urban expanse located within the Aurelian Wall.
Beginning with the Renaissance period and continuing with the important archaeological findings implemented at the Baths of Caracalla, the area began a slow progressive recovery.
After the unification of Italy, interventions were aimed at protecting ancient monuments that were threatened by the sudden and massive urbanisation in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Testaccio and San Giovanni.
With the twenty-year Fascist period, the dream of making this area a large archaeological park faded and the grand streets built solely for pedestrian use became great flowing arteries for city traffic towards the new EUR neighbourhood.
Be sure not to miss: Santa Balbina, the Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla), Santi Nereo e Achilleo, and the Mura (the Wall)