Friday, March 12, 2010

Roman Roads

The day after returning from our Strada Bianche adventure was still nice (little did we know what was to blow in over the next few days!) enough to outdoor fun - not nice enough for road riding but fine for MTB's. Heather's idea was to find a Roman road illustrated on one of the Viterbo maps we have though nobody seemed to know actually where this road could be seen. Our Viterbese friends recalled being hauled out somewhere as young boys by their father to look at it but they couldn't remember either. So Heather pulled out the maps, inhaled a big breath of instinct -- and off we went. As you can see in the photos (kind of a boring post had we NOT found it, right?) she was successful, but not without a fair amount of effort. We headed out the "Slot" cut by the Etruscans many thousands of years ago, then up into farm-type roads, some paved and some gravel, passing by pastures with soon-to-be lamb chops grazing in the fields and some very expensive-looking homes with huge gates and stone walls surrounding them (why are their always giant "shopping-utility-vehicles" parked around these places?) before running into the main road to Vetralla. After questioning some folks along the way, we were still baffled but we pressed on, this time just riding around and thinking (Heather that is) about where a Roman road might have gone and what the route might look like. Sure enough, after turning onto a muddy road Heather spied some stones that looked interesting....a few more meters and a slight turn to the right and we were there! Complete with a Roman pine tree, this bit of old road probably has stayed unburied for centuries since it's a high point, floods and mudslides would eventually wear away and expose the ancient paving blocks, now used only by the farmers to access their fields. We continued on and discovered some Etruscan tombs protected by sheet-metal and glass enclosures and a bit of the old Francigena pilgrimage route complete with Christian stations of the cross (certainly added much later we'd guess) though some grassy fields.

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