strade romane, consular streets of ancient Rome: the via Salaria

the Ancient Roman salt road

The via salaria is one of the oldest consular roads. Built several times by the Romans themselves, it goes from the capital to the Adriatic sea. To this day it is known as the state road 4 – or rather the ss 4. It is, in fact the route between Rome and Rieti.

The curious name dates back to its use by the Ancient Romans for transporting salt from the ancient salt flats allegedly allocated in Le Marche.

The Via Salaria starts from the Aurelian walls coming out towards Porta Salaria, in fact, it goes straight towards the forts to cross the Aniene river and after a good deal of kms arrives at the village of Fidene.

Originally the road branched off between meadows and reclaimed areas, only later purified, indeed we say that the final reclamation took place about two centuries later. The Via Salaria leaves the outskirts of Rome and heads towards Settebagni to finally pass the Tenuta Marcigliana Vecchia, where there was an ancient Roman settlement better known as Crustumerium. A little further on we begin to see the first mountains. We are at the current Corese Pass in the direction of Fara Sabina.

Here the road divided into two very important sections for ancient trade. One road at Ponte Buita continued towards via Cecilia which led to Atri – the ancient hatria – while the other section reached Rieti.

Before Rieti, you can see two very distinct sections. One that turns to the east passing the Apennines towards Sella di Corno to look out over the plain of Amiternum near. The other takes the Passo delle Capannelle and goes on up to Teramo, or rather crosses a town called Pretutii.

The other section from Rieti backtracks a little to the Velino river up to the Baths of Cotilia used by the Romans. In fact, they expanded it into a large settlement so as to have a real wellness center in the vicinity of the hot, acidic and sulphurous hot springs.

Continuing, we arrive at Antrodoco just below the Monte Giano where, the Romans built another spa. But the road does not stop, it continues northwards following the river and crossing gorges and mountains. Here the culture and preparation of the Romans comes unquestionably to the fore. To overcome all these “unexpected events” the engineers of Augusto and Traiano surpassed themselves by adopting technical solutions that still amaze us today.

After passing the mountains, the Via Salaria continues along the Marche plain of the Valle del Tronto to the well-known and important cities of Pescara del Tronto, Acquasanta Terme (also used by the Romans as a thermal centre thanks to the albule waters), Lettera, Posta, Favalanciata, Quintodecimo to get to Ascoli Piceno. Going further and further we finally meet the sea near Castrum Trentium, a town close to Porto d’Ascoli in the municipality of San Benedetto del Tronto.