Roman roads (in Latin, viae - singular via) were vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 500 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. They provided efficient means for the overland movement of armies, officials and civilians, and the inland carriage of official communications and trade goods. Roman roads were of several kinds, ranging from small local roads to broad, long-distance highways built to connect cities, major towns and military bases. These major roads were often stone-paved and metaled, cambered for drainage, and were flanked by footpaths, bridleways and drainage ditches. They were laid along accurately surveyed courses, and some were cut through hills, or conducted over rivers and ravines on bridgework. Sections could be supported over marshy ground on rafted or piled foundations.
At the peak of Rome's development, no fewer than 29 great military highways radiated from the capital, and the Late Empire's 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 great road links. The whole comprised more than 400,000 km of roads, of which over 80,500 km were stone-paved. In Gaul alone, no less than 21,000 km of road are said to have been improved, and in Britain at least 4,000 km. The courses, and sometimes the surfaces of many Roman roads survived for millennia. Some are overlaid by modern roads.
The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy. Its importance is indicated by its common name, recorded by Statius:
The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars.