The few roads that led outside early Rome were Etruscan and went relatively short distances, mainly to Etruria, about three miles from Rome. By the late Republic, the Romans had expanded over most of Italy and were masters of road construction. Via Appia Antica (Appian Way) was the ancient Roman Republic’s first long road, and later, during the Roman Empire, it was strategically the most important long road in the entire Empire. The road was built primarily for the purpose of transporting military supplies and troops. The Appia Antica and other roads built during the late Republic and Empire began at Rome, where the master itinerarium (itinerary or list) of destinations along the roads was located, and extended to the borders of Rome’s domain — hence the expression, “All roads lead to Rome.”
Appia Antica was named for Appius Claudius Caecus, who laid the first 56 miles of road and was responsible for not only overseeing the first part of the project, but for masterminding the whole idea. Caecus began his political career as a Censor (a government official in the Republic). He was placed in charge of the public purse, and was notorious for beginning public works projects without first consulting with the Senate. Aside from Appia Antica, he also ordered the construction of the first Roman aqueduct, Aqua Appia (below), thus securing Rome’s water supply. (In typical Roman fashion, as you can see, he named both projects after himself)!
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