The end of the Appian Way ↑ all posts

The end of the Appian Way

Today I head from Matera to the eastern coast, and I hope to catch a ferry from Brindisi to Greece. Some really rural roads now, passing olive trees growing in dark red earth, and strange houses with conical roofs around Martina Franca. I end up on the motorway as I approach Brindisi, but there’s a wide hard shoulder and it seems safe enough.

In Brindisi the final few miles of the Via Appia leads down to the port. It’s being resurfaced, a job which must have been done many times over the past 2000 years. It’s quite amazing to be on the same road that began in Rome, 700 km to the west, and I’m happy that I’m relieved that I made it across Italy substantially faster than the legions marching in full armour.

I arrived at the port at 18:40, as my research told me that there should be a ferry to Corfu at 21:00. A grumpy ticket seller at the Agoudimos Lines counter tells me that my ferry has been cancelled, and that I must go to mainland Greece on the Grimaldi Lines boat. Only problem is that it leaves at 19:00! I buy my ticket just in time and race to the docks, getting onboard the ferry alongside the last of the cars.

It’s an overnight ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece, and the cheapest option is ‘deck’ class (pricier tickets get beds in a cabin, or a reclining armchair). It’s so warm at night that staying outside is no problem, and I find a quiet spot on the upper deck where I roll out my sleeping mat. It’s a great way to spend a night - the gentle rolling of the ship as it pushes through the night towards Greece, and the great curve of the milky way rises from the east as I lie watching satellites and shooting stars overhead.