Jumat, 02 Maret 2012

Roman roads: Aurelia

This very important and historical Roman road is named after a famous Roman Consul, C. Aurelius Cota, and connects Rome to the coast, to the Tyrrhenian Sea, and following the Tuscan coast eventually ends in Genoa. It is a very fast way to go north to France and it also links some of Italy's major ports to Rome, but it also links some very key cities that developed into essential parts of Italy's infrastructure, such as Pisa, which was an important port during the Roman Empire and today as well, becoming, along with Genoa, one of the four Italian Sea Republics. The Aurelia allowed a strong synergy between army and navy, and it truly was the backbone by which to move the defenses along the coastline. Today, the road is not much different from the original Aurelia, as the direction and location are basically the same.

The original Aurelia was built in the year 241 BC during one of the most important road construction projects in the history of Italy, even up to today. The Romans built roads in the North and the South, including Sicily, and ironically enough, C. Aurelius Cota, Aurelia's namesake, was in charge of the Sicilian roads. Roads like Aurelia were very important, connecting cities and strategic areas and enabling the movement of goods and people in a rapid and dynamic fashion. The Roman Empire was truly founded on its road system, which was efficient and extremely well designed and built. The colonies needed to be reached quickly and communication between them and Rome had to be as fast as possible. As trade and immigration increased, the Empire needed a perfect road system, which eventually became the bone structure of modern Italy.

Aurelia, the ancient Roman road

The interesting thing about Roman roads is that they were all pretty much the same size, with a width of 15 feet. The famous milestones, literally pieces of stone placed on the side of the road with a number on them to mark distances can still be seen across all of Italy, and "milestone" is a term that is still widely used today to identify a mark or a step to be reached or a significant moment in a given time frame. The roads during that time were devised and built following a specific plan, and this is where the expression "all the roads lead to Rome" comes from.

Today, Aurelia is still a very important road used every day by thousands of Italians, providing a scenic drive on the beautiful Italian coastline. There is also a very comfortable highway available though (Autostrada A12) that is definitely recommended for quicker travel up the coast, avoiding the heavy and unpleasant traffic that builds up around each city touched by Aurelia, especially outside Rome and Genoa.

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