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All roads lead here: from Istanbul it was the 1220km Via Egnatia built in the 2nd century AD due east from the Adriatic port of Dyrrachium (now Durrës in Albania). From here it was a short hop to across the Adriatic to Brindisi, where the Via Appia heads for Rome. The Appian Way provides a pleasant rural stroll out of the city, and is still in good condition, as are Rome’s many familiar ancient sights. Yet however familiar these sights may seem, first-time visitors to Rome today will be just as astonished at the grandeur – the sheer size – of the Classical city as they were when they arrived on the Via Appia 2,000 years ago.
At the heart of everything is the Palatine Hill and the Forum, where the streets, shops, civic buildings and temples bring the ancient city to life. The Colosseum, too, of course, and the Pantheon, attest to the Romans’ extraordinary engineering skills, which created aqueducts bringing water for miles around. The Capitoline Museum on the north side of the Forum contains sculptures of Roman rulers and people of importance, including a few body parts of the colossal statue of the Emperor Constantine. Some of the more elegant statues come from the famous craftsmen of Aphrodisias in Anatolia, described by John Julius Norwich in Cornucopia 11.
Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport is on the coast 25 km from the centre of Rome with regular bus and train links.
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