Three Taverns

Three Taverns (Tres Tabernae) was a place on the ancient Appian Way, about 18 km from Rome, designed for the reception of travellers, as the name indicates.

Here St. Paul, on his way to Rome, was met by a band of Roman Christians (Acts 28:15). The "Tres Tabernae was the first mansio or mutatio, that is, halting-place for relays, from Rome, or the last on the way to the city. At this point three roads run into the Via Appia, that from Tusculum, that from Alba Longa, and that from Antium; so necessarily here would be a halting-place, which took its name from the three shops there, the general store, the blacksmith's, and the refreshment-house...Tres Tabernae is translated as Three Taverns, but it more correctly means three shops" (Forbes's Footsteps of St. Paul, p. 20).

The Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911 edition identifies it as "an ancient village of Latium, Italy, a post station on the Via Appia, at the point where the main road was crossed by a branch from Antium. It is by some fixed some 5 km southeast of the modern village of Cisterna di Latina just before the Via Appia enters the Pontine Marshes, at a point where the modern road to Ninfa and Norba diverges to the northeast, where a few ruins still exist (Grotte di Nottola), 53 km from Rome. Others believe that it stood at Cisterna itself, where a branch road running from Antium by way of Satricum actually joins the Via Appia. However, excavations, that took place at km 58.1 of the Via Appia Nuova between 1993 and 2001 revealed a bath plant and some further buildings.

Ulubrae, mentioned as a typical desert village by Roman writers, lay in the plain between Cisterna and Sermoneta. Tres Tabernae is best known as the point to which St. Paul's friends came to meet him on his journey to Rome. It became an episcopal see, but this was united with that of Velletri in 592 owing to the desertion of the place. The name occurs twice in other parts of Italy as the name of post stations."

Tres Tabernae was the place where the former Emperor Flavius Valerius Severus was held prisoner by Maxentius and Maximian, before being killed (307).


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