It has been said that all roads lead to Rome. Via Cassia is one of those roads – if you’re talking about Italy. If you’re talking about Bellarmine University, Via Cassia is the road that connects Bellarmine Boulevard with Knights Way, completing a loop around campus.
Today it’s hard to imagine not being able to veer left at the top of the hill and access Knights Hall or the George G. Brown Center. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that Via Cassia, the “missing piece,” was added, after architects working with administrators on a master plan for campus suggested that a connecting road across the golf course would improve efficiency and safety. “We all agreed, they designed it and we signed off,” said Dr. Joseph J. McGowan. Following several years of construction, the road was finished in 2005.
Then it was time to name it. And what do you know? This road also leads to Rome.
“I had just come back from a summer trip in Tuscany, where I visited once again St. Robert Bellarmine’s hometown of Montepulciano,” Dr. McGowan said. “I was staying at a friend’s villa in Buonconvento and regularly driving back and forth on the Via Cassia. When I researched the ancient route from Florence to Rome, it occurred to me that in his own travels from Tuscany to Rome and his work with the Gregorian University, St. Robert would also have traveled that road.”
Naming our road Via Cassia “is in line with our efforts to inform the architecture and the landscape of our hill-town campus with Tuscany sensibilities” that evoke the university’s namesake, he said.
But as it turns out, the name also has a Kentucky connection. Shortly after Dr. McGowan announced that the new section of roadway would be dubbed Via Cassia, he heard from Dr. Rob Kingsolver, then dean of Bellarmine College and now dean of the new School of Environmental Studies.
Dr. Kingsolver said he liked the name because of a native annual plant belonging to the bean family that blooms in late summer in Kentucky. It’s commonly called the partridge pea. Its scientific name? Cassia fasciculate.
Carla Carlton | email@example.com