Pilgrims who visited the Holy Land between the IV and VII century

Illustrations 10: From Valona to Rome (34-36)

34. A Roman cargo boat  34.

Sometimes travellers were compelled to try a sea crossing. In our case the crossing was taken between Aulon (Valona - Albania) and Hydrontum (Otranto - Italy). To the left one can see a representation of a Roman cargo boat, taken from a mosaic of the 2nd century AD which was discovered at Ostia, the harbour of Rome.


A section of the Via Appia near Rome, with some rich funerary buildings (mausolaea) beside it. One may notice also how the huge basalt slabs of the road-bed appear extremely worn out. The importance of the road system for the Roman Empire is well known. A widespread, fast and safe road system was of critical importance for administrative and military reasons. Travelling public officials profited from the possibility of changing mounts after a number of miles to speed up the transfer (cursus publicus). Our pilgrim may actually have been a public official (or a relative to one); in this case he could have made good use of the advantages offered to him by the state.

35. A section of the Via Appia

36. Sckech plan of Rome  36.

Sketch plan of the ancient city of Rome as it was in the middle of the 4th century. The limits are those enclosed in the Aurelian walls, built in 272 AD. The starting point of all Roman roads is situated in the Forum, and distances were always calculated from there. It is unfortunate that the author of the itinerary doesn't say a single word about the Christian monuments of Rome. In particular we would have expected to find a reference to the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs and to the main basilicas being built there by order of Emperor Constantine, namely the Lateran and St. Peter's. The anonymous pilgrim reached the city from the south, by the Via Appia, and left it, moving in a northerly direction (to Milan) using the Via Flaminia.

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