Types of Roman roads
The Roman roads were diverse, from simple roads to the above-mentioned paved ones using a solid base of paved gravel, which ensured the drainage of rainwater. As a result there was no mud and the road remained dry and passable.
According to Domitius Ulpiano, there were three types of roads:
Viae publicae, consulares, praetoriae, or militares – main roads, built and maintained from public resources. They led to the sea, city or river, or to another equivalent road. They were named after the statesmen who ordered their construction or reconstruction.
Viae privatae, rusticae, glareae or agrariae – second category roads, mostly private. They led to private residences. Private or public owners of roads benefited from the right of passage.
Viae vicinales – country roads.
Depending on their importance, the Roman roads also varied in width.
With the later rapid expansion of the Roman Empire, a dense network of roads with crossroads and junctions began to emerge. The most famous of the Roman roads is called Via Appia. It was built in the early days of the republic in 312 BC on the orders of Senator Appius Claudius Caecus and connected Rome with Brindisi on the farthermost southeast coast. It was on this road that all the good experience from the construction of previous roads was applied. As late as the 1950s, various sections of Via Appia road were used for normal traffic before it was declared a protected monument. In the following centuries, efforts were made to reduce distances to a minimum, forcing builders to build various bridges, viaducts, embankments, ditches and tunnels.
Milestones and taverns
Milestones were settled along the roads (the Roman mile measured 1478.5 m), which informed the travellers about the distance to particular places. Actually, they were today’s information boards. At the crossroads stood small shrines dedicated to Lares, near which shopping centres were often established. Post stations and inns were being built along the roads, which is still practised on many roads nowadays.
Roads to Rome
The system of roads on the Apennine Peninsula led to the proverb “All roads lead to Rome”. The saying was officially confirmed by Augustus, who had placed a golden mile stone in the form of a column covered with a gold plate on the Forum Romanum. This milestone stood where Via Aurelia, Ostiensis, Flaminia, Salaria and Appia intersected, connecting Rome with all the provinces of the empire.
The strategic importance of road construction was also fully confirmed, as it was possible to reach any corner of the country by land much faster than by lenghty and dangerous sailing around the Apennine Peninsula.
The Romans became masters of road construction. Their routes and parts of them have been preserved to this day.