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VIA VALERIA

VIA VALERIA ( Οὐαλερία ὁδός, Strab.) one of the most celebrated and important of the Roman highways, which led from Rome, or, more strictly speaking, from Tibur, to the lake Fucinus and the land of the Marsi, and thence was subsequently continued to the Adriatic, at the mouth of the Aternus. The period of its construction is uncertain. It has indeed been frequently supposed to have derived its name from, and to have been the work of, M. Valerius Maximus, who was censor with C. Junius Bubulcus in B.C. 307; but the expression of Livy, that the two constructed roads “per agros,” would certainly seem to refer to cross-roads in the neighbourhood of Rome; and it is very improbable that the construction of so celebrated a highway as the Via Valeria should not have been more distinctly stated. (Liv. 9.43.) The Via Valeria, indeed, was properly only a continuation of the Via Tiburtina, which led from Rome to Tibur; and though the Itineraries include the whole line of route under the name of the Via Valeria, it appears that the distinction was still kept up in the time of Strabo, who distinctly speaks of the Valerian Way as beginning from Tibur, and leading to the Marsi, and to Corfinium, the metropolis of the Peligni (Strab. v. p.238). The expressions of the geographer would naturally lead us to conclude that the Via Valeria was in his time carried as a regular highway as far as Corfinium; but we learn from an inscription, that this was not the case, and that the regularly constructed road stopped short at Cerfennia, at the foot of the Mons Imeus or Forca di Caruso, a steep and difficult pass, over which the highway was not carried till the reign of Claudius, who at the same time continued it to the mouth of the Aternus. (Orell. Inscr. 711.) It appears that the portion thus added at first bore the name of the Via Claudia Valeria (Inscr. l.c.); but the distinction was soon lost sight of, and the whole line of route from Rome to the Adriatic was commonly known as the Via Valeria. (Itin. Ant. p. 308.) It will be convenient here to adopt the same usage, and consider the whole course of the road under one head.

The Via Tiburtina, as the road from Rome to Tibur was properly called, must undoubtedly have been of very ancient origin. There must indeed have existed from the earliest ages of Rome a frequented highway or communication between the two cities; but we are wholly ignorant as to the time when a regularly made road, with its solid pavement and all the other accessories of a Roman via, was constructed from the one city to the other. The road as it existed in the time of the Roman Empire may be distinctly traced by portions still remaining of the [p. 2.1306]pavement, or by sepulchres and fragments of ancient buildings, so that no doubt can exist as to its precise course. It quitted the original city by the Porta Esquilina, passed through the Porta Tiburtina (now Porta S. Lorenzo) in the walls of Aurelian, and then proceeded nearly in a straight line to the Anio, which it crossed by a bridge about 4 miles from Rome. This bridge, now called the Ponte Mammolo, is in its present state the work of Narses, having been restored at the same time as those on the Via Salaria and Nomentana, after their destruction by Totila, A.D. 549. From this bridge the ancient road followed very nearly the same line as the modern one as far as the Lago di Tartaro, a small lake or pool of sulphureous waters, similar in character to the more considerable pool called the Solfatara or Aquae Albulae, about 2 miles farther on, and a mile to the left of the highroad. Leaving this on the left, the Via Tiburtina proceeded almost perfectly straight to the Ponte Lucano, at the foot of the hill of Tivoli, where it recrossed the Anio. There can be no doubt that this bridge retains its ancient name of Pons Lucanus, though this is not mentioned by any ancient author; but the origin of the name is evident from the massive sepulchre of the Plautian family (a structure not unlike the celebrated tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way), which stands close to the bridge, and which was constructed by M. Plautius Lucanus, who was censor together with Tiberius in the reign of Augustus. From the inscription on an ancient milestone it appears that this part of the road was constructed by him at the same time; and it is probable that the original Via Tiburtina was carried from the Lago di Tartaro in a different direction, bearing away more to the left, so as to leave the Aquae Albulae on the right; while the road constructed by Plautius, like the modern highroad, passed between that lake and Tibur. The 14th milestone was found near the spot where the road crosses the artificial channel that carries off the waters of the lake. From the Ponte Lucano the ancient road ascended the hill of Tibur by a very steep and straight ascent, passing through or under a portion of the vaulted snbstructions of the so-called villa of Maecenas. [TIBUR]

The Itineraries all agree in stating the distance of Tibur from Rome at 20 miles; but it in reality little exceeds 18 by the direct road, which crossed the Ponte Lucano, as above described. The Tabula gives the Aquae Albulae as an intermediate station, but places it 16 M. P. from Rome, though the true distance is only 14.

From Tibur the Via Valeria ascended the valley of the Anio, passing by the town of Varia (Vicovaro), 8 miles from Tibur, to a point marked by an inn, now called Osteria Ferrata, 5 miles beyond Vicovaro and 13 from Tivoli. This point, where the Anio makes a sudden bend, is evidently the site of the station Ad Lamnas of the Tabula, whence a side road struck off to the right, ascending the upper valley of the Anio to Sublaqueum (Subiaco), whence the road derived the name of VIA SUBLACENSIS by which it is mentioned by Frontinus (de Aquaeduct. 15). The road is given in the Tabula, but in so confused a manner that it is impossible to make it out. Sublaqueum was in reality 48 miles from Rome by this route, or 28 from Tibur.

The Via Valeria, on the other hand, turned to the left at the Osteria Ferrata, and crossed the hills to Carseoli, the ruins of which are still visible at some distance nearer Rome than the modern village of Carsoli. Thence it ascended a steep mountainpass, where portions of the ancient road, with its pavement and substructions, are still visible, and descended again into the basin of the Lake Fucinus. After passing by, rather than through, Alba Fucensis, it was carried along the N. shore of the lake to Cerfennia, the site of which is clearly identified at a spot just below the village of Coll‘ Armeno. [CERFENNIA] Here, as already mentioned, the original Via Valeria terminated; but the continuation of it, as constructed by Claudius, and given in the Itineraries, ascended the steep mountain-pass of the MONS IMEUS, and thence descended into the valley of the Aternus, on the banks of which, near its confluence with the Gizio, stood the city of Corfinium. Three miles from that city was a bridge over the Aternus (near the site of the present town of Popoli), which constituted an important military position. [ATERNUS] Below this point the river flows through a narrow pass or defile, through which the Via Valeria also was carried. The station Interpromium, marked in the Itineraries as 12 miles from Corfinium, must be placed at the Osteria di S. Valentino, below the village of the same name. Thence the road descended the valley of the Aternus to its mouth, which is correctly placed by the Itineraries 21 miles from Interpromium, and 9 beyond Teate (Chieti).

The distances given in the Antonine Itinerary from Rome to this point are as follow:--

Rome to Tibur (Tivoli xx. M. P.
  Carseoli (Ru. near Carsoli xxii.  
  Alba Fucentia (Alba xxv. (xxii.)
  Cerfennia (Sta Felicita xxiii. (xiii.)
  Corfinium (S. Pelino xvi. (xvii.)
  Interpromium (Ost. di S. Valentino xi. (xii.)
  Teate (Chieti xvii. (xii.)

The distances stated in parentheses are the corrections suggested by D'Anville, who examined the whole of this line of route with much care, and are confirmed by the discovery of ancient milestones, which leave no doubt as to the actual distances. The general correctness of the result thus obtained is confirmed by a statement of Pliny (3.5. s. 6), in which he estimates the breadth of Italy in it's central part, as measured from the mouths of the Tiber to that of the Aternus at 136 miles. Here the mention of the Aternus leaves little doubt that the measurement was taken along the Via Valeria. Now the corrected distances above given amount to 118 miles from Rome to Teate, or 125 miles to the mouth of the Aternus; and if to this be added 16 miles from Rome to Ostia, the result is 141 miles, agreeing, within 5 miles, with the statement of Pliny.

(For a full examination of this whole line of route, see D'Anville, Analyse Géogr. de l'Italie, pp. 170--182, and Kramer, Der Fuciner See, pp. 59--62. The Via Tiburtina and the first part of the Valeria are also described and examined by Westphal, Röm. Kamp. pp. 108--121, and Nibby, Vie degli Antichi, pp. 96--104)

The proper termination of the Via Valeria, as continued by Claudius, was undoubtedly at the mouth of the Aternus. But the Antonine Itinerary continues it on to Hadria, which it places at 14 M.P. from Teate; but this distance is much below the truth: we should perhaps read 24 M.P. The probability is, that at the mouth of the Aternus it fell into the line of road previously existing along the coast of the Adriatic, and which, without belonging properly to any of the three highways that proceeded [p. 2.1307]from Rome to that sea, served to connect the Valerian, Salarian, and Flaminian Ways. For this reason it may be useful to set down here the stations and distances along this line of coast, from the mouth of the Aternus to Ancona. They are thus given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 313):--

From the Ostia Aterni (Pescara) to Hadria (Atri xvi. M. P.
Castrum Novum (near Giulia Nuova xv.  
Castrum Truentium (at the mouth of the Tronto xii.  
Castellum Firmanum (Porto di Fermo xxiv.  
Potentia (Potenza xxii.  
Numana (Humana x.  
Ancona viii.  

Here the coast-road joined one branch of the Via Flaminia; and the distances from Ancona to Ariminum will be found in the article on that road. [VIA FLAMINIA]

The Via Valeria, like the Aemilia and Flaminia, gave name to one of the later divisions or provinces of Italy under the Roman Empire, which was called Valeria. It comprised the land of the Marsi, Peligni, and Vestini, through which the road really passed, as well as the land of the Sabines, which was traversed by the Via Salaria. [ITALIA p. 93.]

[E.H.B]

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