Sunday, September 7

Paula: We planned to take an excursion outside of Rome for the day, and decided to visit Ostia Antica. Ostia is an ancient city port originally established by the Romans in 400 B.C. At one time, Ostia was the main port on Tiber River and functioned as an important commercial and military center for over 600 years. We had heard that the ruins at Ostia are remarkably well preserved, and well worth the hour-long trip. The town was abandoned by the 6th century A.D., and a series of floods completely buried the area. This resulted in extraordinary preservation, since the town was not pillaged by invaders or rebuilt, as was the case with many other sites around Rome.



Ostia was a major highlight of our trip to Rome. The ruins and the surrounding site are extremely impressive, and provide a unique insight into the lives of the Romans living in this area during over several centuries. The site is so well preserved that it was often easy to identify buildings and their functions. In addition to the remains of temples and baths, it was also possible to see homes, inns, apartment complexes, shops and even a latrine (allowing us to take the amusing picture at the bottom)! It was especially fascinating because we were able to walk into and through these ruins and city streets. Some of the buildings were several stories high and we were able to climb the stairs and look out upper level windows. Many of the buildings were connected and formed mazes which we enjoyed wandering through. There was a wonderful ancient food and drink shop with a surviving marble counter/bar, stove, sink and shelves as well as outdoor seating in a courtyard.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ostia is the Square of the Guilds. This served as the commercial center for commerce conducted between Rome and all Mediterranean provinces. It consisted of a large square surrounded by individual offices for each area of commerce. Most fascinating were the mosaic tiled floors in front of each office that were used to publicize the businesses. Many of these are still in place today, and we enjoyed trying to decipher them. Apparently, this is the only square of its type that has been discovered in ancient Rome.




Ostia was easy to get to from Rome. It only took about 45 minutes via Metro and then train. The only difficulty was in getting metro tickets again. We have trouble every time because the stations are unmanned and the automatic ticket machines don't work. We're told that we can buy tickets at tobacco shops, but they were all closed today - there has to be a better way...


We spent some time again this evening watching our DVD on Roman History and then enjoyed one last dinner in Rome at a Pizzeria that had been highly recommended. The food here has been great, and we're really looking forward to more of the same (or better!) in Tuscany.

Overall, we've greatly enjoyed our time in Rome - much more so than we expected. Our initial plan was to spend a day or two, and then quickly depart for Tuscany. We're very happy that we spent the past 4+ days here exploring the city and its fascinating history. The fact that the weather was so much cooler also helped significantly.

Tomorrow, it's off to Tuscany! We plan on leaving in the late morning, and expect to be there by early afternoon.

Distance Walked: 4.23 miles












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