1) jump on the M transit line towards Anagnina
2) get off at Arco di Travertino (you can also get off the stop before which drops you a little further up on Via Appia Nuova)
3) walk 2 minutes to the Via Appia Nuova (downlaod google maps before you go to get the route)
4) turn left and walk another 2 minutes to Via dell' Allmone (right after gas station) and make a right
5) walk 20-30 minutes in a straight line until you reach Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way) or if 20-30 minutes walking is too much catch the bus right before the gas station and it will take you straight there.
See, not difficult! The Via dell' Allmone is a long road and sometimes there is no sidewalk and you are sharing the street with cars, but buck up and stop bitching, it's not that bad.
Ok, now that that is over I can tell you that the Appian Way is totally worth the "trouble" of getting there. You can enjoy tours of ancient Christian catacombs, explore countless ruins, castles and tombs, or just enjoy a leisurely walk down a road lined with soaring umbrella pines and imagine you are back in Ancient Rome. There is so much history here it is staggering. I spent all day and must have walked at least 12 miles if not more. I saw a lot of people on bikes, which seemed like a good idea, but there are parts of the road that seem a bit dangerous on a bike. Another complaint I heard was that it was too crowded and there were too many vehicles. I came on a weekend in the summer, and I didn't find either of those complaints to be true. As you can tell by my pictures below, most of the time I felt completely alone, especially if you continue far towards the end. The scenery just gets more and more beautiful as you head away from the "touristy" area. My favorite ruins were the palace of Maxentinus (the movie Gladiator featured this Roman imperial who was in love with his sister), and just across the street there are ruins of a public bath that are quite nice. I did a tour of the catacombs of Saint Callistus, which was fascinating. It is 5 stories deep underground and are some of the oldest Christian catacombs known. We went only 2 stories below and the temperature dropped more then 10 degrees, so it was also a nice relief from the heat.
Eventually, of course, when I was at the furthest stretches of the road, the clouds rolled in and I could hear claps of thunder in the distance. I decided it was probably a good idea to head back to civilization, and as I did I could here the thunder getting closer and closer, until it was directly overhead. I was so close to shelter yet so far away when the sky opened up and the rain pored down in sheets. I dashed under the nearest umbrella pine, and let me tell you, they call them umbrella pines for a reason. I was trapped under that tree for more then 20 minutes while the storm passed and I stayed completely dry. When the storm let up a bit I was able to make my way to small cafe' where I waited out another torrent of rain with a caffe latte and a fresh pressed panini.
When the weather cleared enough for me to move on I made the long walk back to the subway. It was still drizzling a little at that point, but I didn't mind. It was better then sweating in the heat of the afternoon. When I got back to my hotel my feet were throbbing, my legs were sore, and I was basically soaked, but I regretted nothing. It was still a fantastic day.