The Appian Way (Via Appia) was the Roman Republic's first and most important long road built for military purposes such as transporting military supplies and troops. It was named after Appius Claudius, a censor who was in the habit of beginning public works projects without first consulting with the Senate. The first section of the Appian Way road was completed in 312 B.C. Over the years the road was extended and ultimately connected Rome to the Adriatic port city of Brindisi in southeast Italy.
The Romans became experts at constructing roads like the Appian Way. They started by creating a leveled dirt surface upon which small stones and mortar were laid. Gravel was laid upon this, which was finally topped with tight fitting interlocking stones to provide a flat surface. Their roads were built with a crest in the middle (for water runoff) and had ditches on either side.
All roads that began in the city of Rome were labeled with a master list of destinations along its particular route. This labeling eventually led to the popular phrase "All roads lead to Rome."
Perhaps the most well-known event that occurred on the Way involved the ex-gladiator Spartacus (whose life story, in 1960, was made into a very popular movie). In 73 B.C. Spartacus led a slave revolt against the empire. This uprising was significant because slaves accounted for about one-third of Italy's entire population.
The ex-gladiator fought for over two years and defeated several Roman armies. However, while trying to escape from Italy (at the port city of Brundisium / Brindisi, where the Appian Way ended), he unwittingly moved his forces into Apulia / Calabria. This allowed the Romans to eventually pin his forces in between two of their armies. After their defeat the slaves were deemed no longer deserving of life. In 71 B.C. about 6,000 of them were crucified, starting at Rome, along a 124 mile (200 kilometer) stretch of the Way.
Apostle Paul and the Road
At the end of his third missionary journey (late spring 58 A.D.) the Apostle Paul is arrested at Jerusalem's temple when Jews, who hate him, start a riot. He is taken by armed Roman guard to Caesarea where Governor Felix can hear his case. The Governor subsequently puts Paul in prison for more than two years - in the hope a bribe will be offered for his release. In the early autumn of 60 A.D. Paul requests, from the new governor Festus, that as his right as a Roman citizen he wants his case heard by Caesar himself. The request is granted. A Centurion is assigned with taking him to Rome.
After surviving a shipwreck on the stormy Mediterranean sea Paul is brought to the western Italian coastal city of Puteoli (170 miles / 274 kilometers from Rome). From the city he is taken to the Appian road to travel the remaining distance to Rome. Zealous Roman Christians hear about Paul's arrival on the mainland and travel a significant distance on the Way to meet him:
" . . . and the next day we came to Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage." (Acts 28:13-15, NKJV)
The Appii Forum or Market of Appius was a town on the Appian Way about 55 miles from Rome. It was near the sea and a famous resort for sailors, peddlers, merchants and alike. The town of Three Inns (translated 'Three Taverns' in KJV Bible), also near the road, was about ten miles closer to Rome than Appii Forum.