Tag Archives: Via Appia

Fastfood along the Appian Way

On a recent trip, following Paul from Shipwreck on Malta to martyrdom in Rome, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Frattocchie—about 10 miles south of Rome. This was not an “I’m hungry for a Big Mac” type of stop, but we wanted to see the Roman road that was discovered when this McDonald’s was being constructed in 2014. We had been alerted to this site by two experts on the Appian Way—Drs. Mark Wilson and Glen Thompson who are writing a book on the subject!

View of the Roman Road beneath the McDonald’s Restaurant in Frattoccie.

A view of the Roman Road that was discovered when a McDonald’s was being constructed in 2014 in the modern town of Frattocchie  (41.46672, 12.99778).

A view looking northwest at a portion of the excavated area that is about 150 ft. long.  The well-preserved roadbed is about 6.9 ft. wide and is constructed mainly of basalt paving stones.  On the left, or the south side is a walkway for pedestrians that is about 2.6 ft. wide.  On the right (north) is a drainage ditch constructed of stone.  In later times, after the road went out of use, people were buried here—note the skeletons in the ditch.

This was a branch road (diverticulum) from the via Appia that led from near the town of Bovillae to the east.  This portion of the road is only about 200 ft. from the Appian Way on which Paul traveled, in custody, to Rome (Acts 28:13-16). The turn from near Bovillae seems to be between Roman Miles XII and XI on the via Appia—that is, about 10 mi. southeast of where the Via Appia ended near the Circus Maximus (now in modern Rome).

A view of the interior of the McDonald’s in Frattocchie. The Roman Road is clearly visible below the glass flooring of the dining section of McDonald’s.

This picture is a screenshot of the interior of McDonald’s at Frattocchie taken from Google Maps.

The entrance to the “drive-through” at the McDonald’s at Frattocchie. This picture is a screenshot of the interior of McDonald’s at Frattocchie taken from Google Maps.

By the way, Dr. Glen Thompson, who has studied all of the Roman Road systems from Puteoli to Rome, will be leading a trip from April 17-30, 2023. His group will travel from Malta to Rome, with an emphasis on what Paul would have seen as he walked along the Appian way—including this site! A descriptive brochure can be found Here.

Tomb of Cicero — Along the Appian Way with Paul

Acts 28:11-16 describes Paul’s walk from the port of Puteoli (near modern Naples) to Rome—along the Appian Way. The via Appia is one of the first and most important Roman Roads that eventually connected Rome with the port of Brindisi on the Adriatic coast of Italy.  It was named after Appius Claudius Caercus who oversaw the completion of the first section of the road in 312 B.C.  It was built for Roman troupes to move quickly to the south in their war against the Samnites.  Eventually, it grew to become about 350 miles long.

About 40 mi. north of Puteoli, possibly at the beginning of day three of this journey—after having spent the night in Formia that is only a 1.5  miles to the southeast—Paul would have passed by the monument that is now called the “Tomb of Cicero”.

The “Tomb of Cicero”

A view looking southeast at the whole of the monumental “Tomb of Cicero.”  It is 78 ft. high and consists of a base of squared blocks that rests on a crepidoma of two steps.  A truncated, hollow, conical cone, that is missing its outer casing, surmounts the base.  There may have been a statue on the top of the cone honoring the man that was buried there.  The structure was situated in a walled garden (see below) and is in the shape of a truncated cone on a large square base.  It was restored in 1957.

This funeral building is located 1.5 mi. northwest of the Italian city of Formia on the via Appia—about 40 mi. northwest of Puzzuoli/Naples.  It is dated to the second half of the first century B.C.  It is said to be the funeral monument erected in memory of the orator Cicero (106-43 B.C.).  Cicero had a villa in nearby Formia (1.5 mi. to the southeast).  Since it is on the via Appia, Paul would have passed by it on his way from Puteoli to Rome (Acts 28:11–16).

The Base and Entrance to the Tomb of Cicero.

Above is a picture of the base of the “Tomb of Cicero”—looking west-northwest.  The modern staircase ascends the two-step crepidoma.  The modern doorway leads into the lower portion of the tomb.  It is built of hewn pieces of limestone.

The Garden of the Tomb of Cicero

This is a picture of one of the walls that surround the 272 x 232 ft. garden that the “Tomb of Cicero” was placed in.  The boundary wall, behind the olive trees, is Roman and built of opus reticulatum topped by some shaped limestone pieces.  The framed open doorway is original.

Additional photos of this monument, including the interior, are available Here.