Parco degli Acquedotti Rome

The Aqueduct Park (Parco degli Acquedotti) is a huge park in the Appio Claudio district of Rome. As the name indicates, the main attraction of this park is the presence of some extremely well-preserved aqueducts.

Parco degli Acquedotti Rome

Parco degli Acquedotti Rome
Parco degli Acquedotti

There are no less than seven different aqueducts that travel through the park. These are the Anio Vetus, the Anio Novus, the Aqua Marcia, the Tepula, the Iulia, the Aqua Claudia  and the Acquedotto Felice.

The Felice Aqueduct, still working, is the most recently constructed of all Roman aqueducts. It was built in 1585, by Sixtus V, using the already existing arches of the Acquedotto Marcio.

Other archeological finds in the area are the Villa delle Vignacce and the Casale di Roma Vecchia.

The Via del Quadraro can boast the tallest arches (almost 28 meters) of the Claudio Aqueduct, as well as a number of other finds, including a number of sepulchral monuments, a temple (or mausoleum), a small colombario, an inn with thermal baths and what is left of the basolato (a type of large tile made of volcanic rock, used to pave the streets in ancient Roman times) of the Via Latina. (At the moment these have not been dug up yet, and can therefore not be visited.)

The Casale di Roma Vecchia takes its name from the nearby Villa dei Sette Bassi. Since the area in which the ruins were found was quite extensive, in the 18th century it was thought that these were part to another ancient city similar to Rome. The Casale is a house with a tower in a strategic position on the Via Latina, between the Aqua Claudia and Aqua Marcia aqueducts, and is thought to be an 8th century stazione di posta (a precursor of a modern post office).

Along the Casale runs the Fosso dell’Acqua Mariana, a ditch that was built in 1120 by Calixtus II in order to transport the water of the aqueducts Acqua Tepula and Acqua Iulia into the city itself.

Next to the ditch a medieval (13th century) tower can be seen, which was built on top of a Roman cistern.

The tomba dei cento scalini  or “tomb of the 100 steps” is located between the Claudio Aqueduct and the railway line that runs to Cassino. In order to get to the sepulchral chamber one needs to go down 100 steps, hence the name. In some of the niches there are marble sarcophagi with sloping lids. Tunnels have been dug at a later date, probably to be used as catacombs.

Parco degli Acquedotti, Via Lemonia – Rome

Villa delle Vignacce Rome

The Villa delle Vignacce is one of the ruins inside the Parco degli Acquedotti in the southern part of Rome. It was one of the biggest villa’s found outside what was then the center of the city. Unfortunately there is not much left of the original construction. Sculptures and other artefacts found during the excavations are on display in museums in Rome and other cities.

Villa delle Vignacce Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Lemonia, 256 – Rome. District: Appio Claudio. Opening hours: The ruins can be viewed from outside. Admission: Not applicable.

History and description

The Villa delle Vignacce was probably constructed between 125 and 130 AD. The owner was Quinto Servilio Pudente, who was a friend of the Emperor Hadrian and wealthy producer of laterizio (a typical Roman brick).  His name appears on some bricks and on some lead pipes found during the excavations.

The villa would seem to have been built in a somewhat out of the way spot, but it should be remembered that the nearby Via Appia Antica and Via Latina were important roads into the city at the time. It was built on top of an artificial hill, which made it possible to see what was happening at the adjacent Villa del Quintili and Villa dei Settebassi and prepare for possible attacks.

Other finds seem to indicate that the Villa was restored in the 4th century.

In the 6th century the villa became a fortress, in order to withstand the Barbarian invasions.

Excavations point to the presence of a huge two-story thermal complex with marble walls and mosaic floors with a cistern. It probably got its water from the nearby Marcio Aqueduct. Between the end of World War II and the beginning of the 70’s the cistern became the central point of a shantytown built next to the aqueduct. Nowadays it serves as storage space for objects found during the excavations. The shanty town was the background in Pasolini‘s film “Mamma Roma”.

When adjacent districts were built, the hill came to be used as a dump for building materials.

In 2006, 4 meters below the present street level, the ground floor of the villa was unearthed. Later excavations unexpectedly revealed an enormous complex with a.o. a perfectly preserved underground heating system.

Villa delle Vignacce is Italian for “Villa of the Vineyards”.

Excavations

What is left of the villa is a huge circular hall, which was covered with a dome.

The gigantic thermal complex had walls that were covered with marble, floor mosaics and an enormous cistern.

In order to construct the vaults of the complex, so-called pignatte were used, hollow amphoras that diminished the weight of the construction and made it possible to use thinner walls. It is thought that it is here that the pignatte were used for the first time.

Several statues found during the excavations are on display in the Vatican Museums. The most important ones are an Aphrodite, a Ganimede Chiaramonti, the Tyche of Antioch and a big portrait of Giulia Domna (wife of the emperor Septimius Severus).

One of the most interesting finds was a statue of Marsyas. This satyr had challenged Apollo to a musical match, lost and was subsequently skinned alive.

Via Lemonia, 256 – Rome