The Appian Way is… on the way

Live map in Google Earth on the iPad. The journey starts at the Roman Curia close to the spot where Appius Claudius Caecus dreamt up the Via Appia in 312 BC.

A year ago I was making plans to spend a few weeks going up and down the Appian Way to research a book I’ve been promising myself I’d write for years. Back in September I made that journey, one that seems even more memorable now the chance of getting near Italy are slim.

Quite a lot has, of course, happened. One thing is that given the state of the publishing industry at the moment my chances of getting this book out to you even in the mid-term are pretty much zero. So instead I’m going to try and do the whole thing myself: e-book, print and, hopefully, audio too.

The draft manuscript is in editing now. It’s clear that the book couldn’t possibly be a full colour, illustrated title at anything like a reasonable cost given the number of photos I took during those weeks and how important they are to the story. So instead I’ll be offering them all here as a free facility for anyone who wants to view them. You can see the beta album page here.

Maps are another issue. This is a long and complex journey where much of the original Via Appia is either lost or buried beneath modern roads. In parts no one’s exactly sure what route it took either. After mulling over this problem I decided to take a technological approach to making the route intelligible even to people without the faintest idea of the geography of Italy.

It’s going to be a live, interactive map on Google Earth. Again you can browse the beta already by going here

What you see will depend on what device you’re using. If it’s a web browser on a laptop or PC you should go straight into the site. If you’re on a phone or tablet you may be directed to the free Google Earth app to run it. Either way you can ‘fly’ the whole length of the journey, seeing the sights and reading about them, all the way from Rome to Brindisi (hit ‘Present’ if you see that option to get to this).

More news on release date for the book and the finished album and map when I have it…