Aqua Anio Vetus

The Aqua Anio Vetus was an ancient Roman aqueduct, and the second oldest after the Aqua Appia.[1] It was commissioned in 272 BC and funded by treasures seized after the victory against Pyrrhus of Epirus. Two magistrates were appointed by the Senate, the censors Manius Curius Dentatus who died five days after the assignment, and Flavius Flaccus. The aqueduct acquired the nickname of "old" (vetus) only when the Anio Novus was built almost three centuries later.

Route of Aqua Anio Vetus
Terminus of the Anio Vetus in Rome
Ponte Della Mola

Its flow was more than twice that of the Aqua Appia and supplied water to higher elevations of the city.[2]

Its construction was ambitious as it was four times as long as the Appia and its source much higher. It was clearly an engineering masterpiece, especially considering its early date and complexity of construction.

It was the first to take water from the Anio valley, hence its name.

The Vetus had 'muddy water'[3] and probably did not supply drinking water to the Roman aristocracy.


Its source is believed to be between Vicovaro and Mandela, 850 m upstream of the gorge at San Cosimato.[4] Like the Aqua Appia, its route was mainly underground.

It descended from its source along the valley to Tivoli where it left the Anio towards the Alban Hills to near Gallicano, below Palestrina. It crossed under the Via Latina near the seventh milestone and at the fourth milestone turned northwest to enter Rome.

It entered the city underground at the Porta Praenestina and terminated inside the Porta Esquilina. Only 5.8% of the Vetus' total flow supplied imperial buildings,[2] an important difference from the Appia, which provided almost 22% to such buildings.

It had 35 castella for distribution in the city.[5]

Three major restorations were done along with the Appia aqueduct: in 144 BC by the praetor Quintus Marcius Rex during construction of the Aqua Marcia by adding a secondary conduit in the Casal Morena area; in 33 BC when Agrippa took control of the entire water system of the city; and between 11 and 4 BC by Augustus. With this latter, an underground branch was built, the specus Octavianus, which started from the current Pigneto area and followed the Via Casilina and reached the area where the Baths of Caracalla were later built.

Other restorations in the first two centuries AD include the construction of bridges across valleys on the route to shortcut long underground diversions. These include Ponte della Mola[6] which dates to Hadrian and was built to cross a valley shortening the route by about 1.5 km. It is 156 m long and 24.50 m high with a double order of 29 arches and two single arches. The central part, for a stretch of three double arches, collapsed in 1965 and an adjacent fourth double arch was soon demolished because it was unsafe.

Other RemainsEdit

Remains of bridges: Ponte Taulella,[7] Ponte Pischero,[8] Ponte degli Arci, Ponte Lupo

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Aqua Anio Vetus". Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Sextus Julius Frontinus. The Aqueducts of Rome. pp.1, 6–20.
  3. ^ Frontinus de aq. 90
  4. ^ The Aqueducts of Ancient Rome,, Evan James Dembskey, thesis 2009, 106.
  5. ^ Frontinus de aq. 80
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^