ROME, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Italy's Ministry of Culture has backed the Appian Way's candidacy to become a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, the first time such a bid has had national support in the country.
The Appian Way is a 2,300-year-old road connecting Rome to the southeastern Italian city of Brindisi. When work on the road began in 312 BC, it was one of the largest infrastructure projects in ancient Rome.
Because the road is around 550 kilometers long, the candidacy of the Appian Way will have the backing of four of the Italian regions it passes through -- Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, and Puglia, as well as 12 provinces and cities, and 73 towns.
In addition to the Ministry of Culture, 25 universities and 15 national or regional parks have also backed the candidacy.
An official from the ministry told Xinhua the candidacy to have the Appian Way recognized by the UNESCO is the first to have the formal backing of the ministry. Normally, candidacies are left to local or regional governments, universities, or private groups.
With 58 recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Italy has more than any other country; two more than China and seven more than Germany.
If approved by UNESCO, the Appian Way will be the second longest site after the Great Wall of China.