The small coastal town of Ostia makes the perfect day trip from Rome, it is close to Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci airport) and is a great place to visit if you have some time before a flight.

The small coastal town of Ostia makes the perfect day trip from Rome, and a great place to while away the hours before your flight from Rome's Fiumicino airport.

Now considered "the beach of the Romans," its modern part is a vacation locale, with beach facilities, nightlife, and restaurants, and its historical part is well-worth a visit.

The Ostia Antica excavations are the 16th most visited state site in Italy and join Pompeii as the largest archaeological sites in the world (about 150 hectares).

At the excavations we learn that Ostia used to be closer to the sea; the Latin name ostium, meant the mouth of the river (Tiber). It has moved about 4 km away from the coast because of the debris brought by the Tiber over two thousand years.

What looks like a pile of stones to us, in antiquity was a bustling, thriving port, a cosmopolitan city (with a population of 100,000) with people from every corner of the Roman Empire.

Strolling through these streets, a bit like in Pompeii, we get an idea of what life was like in the day of the ancient Romans: the Forum, temples, granaries, houses with several stories and shops on the ground floor, the taverns with wine counters, the lavish domus with beautiful decorations, and countless baths with sophisticated mosaics.

Temples abounded for every religion: pagan Gods, Greek and Roman divinities, as well as Middle Eastern ones, and places of worship for Jews and Christians.

Its many attractions include: the Baths of Neptune, with mosaics depicting the sea god Neptune and various sea creatures.

No less impressive is the Roman Theater seating up to 4,000.

The Porta Marina gate led to the beach, and right before it was Alexander Helix's tavern featuring a number of erotic mosaics (the back area may have been used for prostitution!). We'll end our tour with a visit to the museum that holds the finds from the excavations, including statues, objects of daily use, mosaics, and sarcophagi. A tour has to be booked to admire the frescoed houses.

For info: http://www.ostiaantica.beniculturali.it/orari-ostia-antica.php

As fascinating as the Roman part is, the medieval part is likewise of great interest, especially the fortress and the castle of Julius II (Pope).

How to get there:

From Rome, you come by train to both the Ostia Antica (at the stop of the same name) and Lido di Ostia; from the Porta S. Paolo station, take the train on the Rome-Lido line.

Ostia is close to Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci airport) and is a great place to visit if you have some time before a flight. There is a bus that connects Lido di Ostia to Fiumicino; the schedules are posted on the official website (http://servizi.cotralspa.it/Orari).


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