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Italy seeks UNESCO World Heritage Status for Appian Way

Rome ceremony to sign UNESCO bid for ancient Roman road.

Italy is moving forward with the candidacy process to have the Via Appia Antica inserted in the UNESCO World Heritage List, in what is the first such bid promoted directly by the Italian culture ministry.

The bid for UNESCO recognition refers to the full route of the Appian Way, from Rome to Brindisi in south-east Italy, and including the Via Traiana, built by Emperor Trajan as an extension of the ancient Roman road from Beneveneto to Brindisi.

A ceremony to sign a memorandum of understanding for the candidacy of “Via Appia. Regina viarum” for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List will take place at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome on 10 January.

The bid will then be sent to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the Paris-based advisory body to the World Heritage Committee.

"After the complex and long evaluation process by ICOMOS, it is hoped that the Appia will be recognised in the famous list during the summer 2024 Session (June-July)", said Angela Maria Ferroni of the culture ministry's Unesco office in a statement last October.

In May former culture minister Dario Franceschini said: "The Appian Way is an itinerary to be enhanced and placed at the centre of slow tourism to strengthen the offer of new attractions such as sustainable walkways and routes", adding that the road had all the qualities to become one of the greatest camino routes in Europe.

Franceschini's successor, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has continued efforts by the culture ministry to promote the Appian Way bid.

Dating to 312 BC, the Via Appia Antica is the first and most important of Roman roads and was known as Regina viarum or "queen of the roads" by the Romans.

A total of 73 municipalities, 15 parks, 12 cities and provinces, four regions (Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia), 25 Italian and foreign universities, and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology have united to protect, enhance and promote the 'Via Appia. Regina viarum' project, which was already included in UNESCO's tentative list.

In a statement, the culture ministry said the road's "well-preserved infrastructural, archaeological, architectural, funerary and civil testimonies" represent a "cultural heritage of exceptional importance."

First published on 5 May 2022, updated on 11 October 2022 and again on 9 January 2023.

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Address Via Appia Antica, Roma RM, Italy

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Italy seeks UNESCO World Heritage Status for Appian Way

Via Appia Antica, Roma RM, Italy

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