LATINA, VIA, an ancient highroad of Italy, leading S.E. from Rome. It was probably one of the oldest of Roman roads, leading to the pass of Algidus, so important in the early military history of Rome; and it must have preceded the Via Appia as a route to Campania, inasmuch as the Latin colony at Cales was founded in 334 B.C. and must have been accessible from Rome by road, whereas the Via Appia was only made twentytwo years later. It follows, too, a far more natural line of communication, without the engineering difficulties which the Via Appia had to encounter. As a through route it no doubt preceded the Via Labicana (see LABICANA, VIA), though the latter may have been preferred in later times. After their junction, the Via Latina continued to follow the valley of the Trerus (Sacco), following the line taken by the modern railway to Naples, and passing below the Hernican hill-towns, Anagnia, Ferentinum, Frusino, etc. At Fregellae it crossed the Liris, and then passed through Aquinum and Casinum, both of them comparatively low-lying towns. It then entered the interval between the Apennines and the volcanic group of Rocca Monfina, and the original road, instead of traversing it, turned abruptly N.E. over the mountains to Venafrum, thus giving a direct communication with the interior of Samnium by roads to Aesernia and Telesia. In later times, however, there was in all probability a short cut by Rufrae along the line taken by the modern highroad and railway. The two lines rejoined near the present railway station of Caianello and the road ran to Teanum and Cales, and so to Casilinum, where was the crossing of the Volturnus and the junction with the Via Appia. The distance from Rome to Casilinum was 129 m. by the Via Appia, 135 m. by the old Via Latina through Venafrum, 1 26 m. by the short cut by Rufrae. Considerable remains of the road exist in the neighbourhood of Rome; for the first 40 m., as far as Compitum Anagninum, it is not followed by any modern road; while farther on in its course it is in the main identical with the modern highroad.
See T. Ashby in Papers of the British School at Rome iv. i sq., v. i sq. (T. As.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)