Along the Appian Way
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
What changes the centuries bring ! If Julius Cæsar should rise from his grave, he would scarcely recognize this as the renowned military road of the Romans ; indeed, the only thing by which he could identify it at all would be that imposing round tower rising so majestically on the summit of the road, the Tomb of Caecilia Metella, that
"Stern round tower of other days,
This tomb is built of concrete and the facing which we see is travertine. It is surmounted by a frieze and cornice of marble, and is lined with brick in the interior. The tomb is one hundred feet in diameter and thirty-four feet in height, with walls thirty-five feet thick. We need to know these facts in order that we may understand how it could remain there through nearly twenty centuries. The enormous solidity of this structure speaks of a rude and semi-barbarous age. Caecilia, for whom it was built, lived in the closing years of the Republic and was the daughter of Metellus Creticus, Consul 69 B. C., and wife of a Crassus, probably M. Licinius Crassus. From this mausoleum was taken the beautiful sarcophagus, now in the courtyard of the Farnese Palace. It is the oldest Roman structure remaining intact, of which we have positive knowledge, in which marble is used. In the Middle Ages, it was turned into a fortress with battlements by the warlike Gætani, who also threw an arch over the Appian Way at that place, thus forcing all travelers to pay them tribute,
" The simple plan,
That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can."
The street-cleaning brigade has evidently been doing good service here, as is shown by the heaps of dirt ranged along the side of the roadway. In 1871, the first year of Victor Emmanuel's reign, seventy-two thousand dollars were expended by the city in street cleaning. In 1885 this amount had increased to one hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars. At the present time the expenditure is about one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, and more than two hundred tons of dirt are removed from the streets each day. The little stone house standing just to our left, sadly in need of whitewash, is an interesting establishment. It is a wine-shop, as is indicated both by the word " vino " on the wall facing us, and by that olive branch which is not growing out of the front wall. Throughout Italy the numerous wine-shops, encountered at intervals along the dusty road, are designated by just such a branch, which gave rise to the Italian proverb that, " good wine needs no bush," by which they mean, that any wine-shop famed for its excellent wines, does not require a bush hanging outside to insure it custom. Here we have some neighborhood gossip dispensed on the doorstep ; and, at the corner, an interesting conversation is being carried on, but the most interesting person in sight is the little girl who stands in front of us with her raven locks stealing out from under her tightly fitting head-dress and her crumpled apron which looks as roguish as herself.
Let us now stroll out along the Appian Way three miles beyond the fifth milestone.