Just a 25 minute local train ride from Rome are the ruins of the ancient port of Rome, Ostia Antica. Shaded with pines and free from traffic, the bucolic site it feels a million miles away from the crowds of the city centre.
Once a bustling trading city, which at its peak had a population of 50,000, it was here that wine and oil, grain and exotic animals, arrived from across the Mediterranean before being loaded onto barges and taken up the Tiber and into the city. As well as goods, people of all social strata, and from all parts of the Empire passed through Ostia: soldiers and slaves, merchants and government officials. This is still reflected today in the varied religious buildings on the site: for example as well as the usual Roman gods, the site abounds with temples to the Persian deity Mithras.
Today we can wander amid pines along the roads of a Roman town and explore apartment buildings and villas, bath complexes, taverns, a theatre, and even a public lavatory. Far from the vast pomp and grandeur of the Forum and the Field of Mars, Ostia is a city on a human scale. Exploring both the back streets of residential neighbourhoods, and the main square of commercial activity, we can immerse ourselves in the various facets of everyday Roman life. Along the way we will seek out fragments of mosaic, fresco, and marble decoration which still cling to the brick in improbable corners.
The open nature of the site, and the lack of crowds mean this tour is also highly recommended for children. For children over about 8, Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries are set in Ostia and offer an excellent introduction before a visit.
Two tour options are available:
- a 4-hour round trip from Rome (using public transport) which gives just over 2 hours on site
- a more in depth 6-hour round trip which gives about 4 hours on site (with a short lunch break)
The site is highly recommended for younger visitors.
Any alterations to the suggested itinerary are very welcome, and will be accommodated wherever accessibility permits.
- Immersion in the daily life of Ancient Rome
- Family friendly site