The Via Julia Augusta path between Albenga and Alassio is what remains of the Roman road that connected Piacenza with Provence. In fact, it became the continuation of the Via Aurelia that reached Lunigiana from Rome. It was built between 14 and 12 BC at the behest of the emperor Augustus . Today only part of the original pavement remains of the road. Along the course of the Via you can admire the ancient funeral monuments, a typical Roman tradition, and the remains of the amphitheater, built along the route.
The road network was a fundamental element for the life of the Roman Republic first and then of the Empire. The routes allowed the rapid movement of the army towards the areas where its presence was required, allowing a rapid and effective intervention. Equipped with post stations, they favored the rapid movement of messengers and goods and made the vast territories under the control of the Romans more united. They were defined as the "most lasting monument" , as they were built to withstand the wear and tear of time.
Building the road was not easy. First of all, only the consuls had sufficient powers to expropriate the land necessary to host the road layout. For this reason, the extra-urban roads are called consular and are named after the magistrate who proposed the project. After the consul's approval, the military engineers began work, assisted by various technicians, who took care of the various necessary aspects: from the layout to the works to ensure safe transit. The manual activity was usually carried out by prisoners of war, slaves, but also soldiers to keep them in operation in times of peace.
Made as straight as possible to minimize distances, the roads were built according to a specific criterion. The base consisted of a layer called statumen, made up of clay and stones. The second layer, the rudus, was a mixture of sand, shards and stones mixed with lime. The nucleus, made of rubble, was covered with stone slabs. The road had as its final humpback structure to let the water flow out.
The route between Albenga and Alassio consists for the most part in a dirt path, but, after passing the funerary monument identified with the letter A, you can walk along a stretch of paving dating back to the Roman era that has come down to us well preserved. At this point the paved road is 3.5 m wide and has two sidewalks on either side. It is protected from possible landslides by a low wall on the mountain side.
From the path you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Gallinara Island , a place where, according to the Vita Sancti Martini by Sulpicio Severo, it is said that San Martino di Tours lived for some time. The Saint retires into a voluntary exile on the island, feeling threatened in Milan by the Aryan faction and here he stayed with a priest, feeding on poisonous plants and risking to die from poisoning.
After the experience of San Martino, in the 4th century AD an important Benedictine abbey was founded on Gallinara which over time, thanks to bequests, had properties in Provence and Catalonia. Over the centuries the monks founded a second abbey on the head in front of the island and dedicated it to San Martino. Even today, the upper part of the promontory that divides Albenga and Alassio bears the name of the saint. The abbey was a very important center for the ecclesiastical life of the ingauna city, but during the 1300s it had lost its autonomy and importance. The complex was therefore abandoned until the end of the nineteenth century, when a private villa in neo-Gothic style was built on the remains of the abbey.