Ostia Antica, and a pyramid in Rome!

Trip Start Oct 03, 2010
Trip End Nov 07, 2010

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Where I stayed
Via dei Delfini, Rome

Flag of Italy  , Latium,
Friday, October 29, 2010

Today we ventured a little further afield, and had our first experience of public transport in Rome. It was a beautiful day again, so we walked (via a caffe) to Colosseo Metro station, and boarded a train to Piramide. This was my third and last day of the Roma Pass, which includes public transport, so I didn't need a ticket, and even though everything I read says only EU citizens under 18 can get free entry and free transport, Tara keeps getting waved through. Not complaining!

At Piramide we had to change to the suburban train line to Lido di Ostia, and while we were changing platforms we had a glimpse of the pyramid we'd heard about. It's the tomb of a senior Roman magistrate who died in 12 BC, and is a huge (36m tall) white edifice set into the Aurelian Wall near Porta San Paolo.

We found a train that seemed to be going the right way (there aren't a lot of signs, in Italian or any other language, in Rome to help the newcomer - sometimes you just have to hope for the best!), and we were lucky and got to Ostia Antica station about 20 minutes later. To get out of the station, we had to walk downstairs, go under the train lines, and walk upstairs on the other side. Then we had to cross a main road by walking up stairs, across the road, and down stairs back to ground level. Then it's a walk (again, very few signs, but we found it) to the entrance of the scavi - the excavation site. And again, Tara got a free ticket.

When you first enter Ostia Antica, the main road (a Roman road of large rounded stones - fun to walk on for the first little while, but not so fun on the feet after a few hours) proceeds through a necropolis - the tombs of long dead residents. They weren't allowed to be buried within the town walls, so the streets leading into Roman towns and cities are lined with the dead. Once you go through the porta, things change. There are avenues of small shops, most of which would have had one or more storeys above for living. There are larger houses with entries between shops, and opening out into courtyards surrounded by rooms, set back from the street. There are specialty shops, some clearly marked by mosaics depicting their products, like the fishmonger with the marble table and beautiful fish mosaics on the floor. There are public baths and gymnasiums, temples and a large theatre, a Forum and the Capitolium.

Like Rome itself, there are layers of building, with later residents building over the top of the older structures.

Some of the statues that were found in the excavations have been removed to a museum within the grounds - stunning portrait busts of emperors and other important people, and statues of the gods (including Mithras and a bull).

The site isn't as big as Pompeii, and it's less visited, but it's definitely an easier trip with a child. We would have had to spend a couple of hours travelling each way to Pompeii, but Ostia Antica is about 30 minutes from the centre of Rome by train. And it's certainly big enough - we spent about five hours there, and still didn't see everything.

On the way back on the train, we briefly saw Mussolini's Square Colosseum at EUR. We left the station at Piramide, and went to have a proper look at Caius Cestius' pyramid tomb. It's quite an incongruous sight, and it must have seemed even more so when it was first built. From there we passed through the wall to the city itself, and walked back along the Via Mamorata to the Tiber, then along the road between the river and the Aventine Hill, past the Bocca della Verita, onto Via Petroselli, and around the southern end of the Capitoline Hill, near the Tarpeian Rock. From there we weren't far from home, so we detoured slightly to the Largo di Torre Argentina for dinner and then back to the flat.

And still no washing machine, so another load of handwashing to do before bed ...
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Karen on

sounds amazing. i had never heard of it before but definitely sounds better than pompeii with a child to travel with!
am loving your blog, you should become a travel writer :D

Lara on

You are immersing me in your journey and I'm loving it.

karianpa on

Have you noted down the cafes in all the places to which you've been? Seriously, Dad (Grandad) and I are loving your travel writing. We agree, you could easily become a travel writer. Better get in touch with Lonely Planet. Love from Mum & Dad (Grandma & Grandad)

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