Vía degli Dei 4: Roman roads

Over 2200 years ago the Romans came North to this part of the world and stamped on some local hill tribes. They then built some forts and roads and it was all Pax Romana from there on out. Our route has been broadly following one of those roads, which makes sense as there are only so many ways to join up passes, bridges, water-sources, and so on.

Historians knew that the road we’ve been following, the Flaminia Militarie, used to exist because the Romans left good maps, but until recently there was no sign of the road itself. Then a couple of decades ago some amateur archeologists found bits of the road under a millennial level of dirt and mud. So now it’s possible to not only see, but walk on, sections of actual Roman road. And that’s what we did today.

Roman road

Before the road came hills and some mud – so business as usual. We also, and this we did find exciting, crossed the border from Emeilia-Romagna into Tuscany. And it was just over the border we found our first section of Roman road.

Tuscan border marker

The walk this morning was in pleasant sunshine which lulled us into thinking we might avoid the forecast rain; we’d even set off at 7:30 in an effort to get ahead of it.

But by 11 there was thunder echoing through the hills, the lovely views had closed in to a wall of gray, and the rain set in. It wasn’t too bad in our wet weather gear although we did discover that 2000-year-old cobbles are slippery when wet.

More Flaminia Militarie

By 12:30 we’d gone over the summit of a mountain and down the other side. We went into the German military cemetery in search of some shelter amongst the sobering rows of WW2 dead, but by the time we’d walked up to the monument surmounting the cemetery the Sun was pouring down again and we were putting on sunscreen. We had lunch on a bench and contemplated what a waste war is.

The cemetery is actually set in a mountain pass through which the Via degli Dei runs. Unfortunately there’s nowhere to stay up there so we had to descend another 5km. Almost as soon as we started, the weather turned again and it was back into the wet-weather gear, to descend a very dodgy path. We did get to see some more Roman road though.

Roman roads – slippery when wet

Leave a Reply