Friday, 10 May 2013

Ostia Antica

I have been to Rome at least half a dozen times, but Rome is so big and so full of cool stuff that the list of things I have not yet seen is really long. Today, on a kind of grey day with a few showers around, I checked off another: Ostia Antica.

Ostia is one of the old ports of Rome at the former mouth of the Tiber River. I say "former" because the port silted up and now the sea is 3 miles away. Most of the "oldest" stuff Ostia date around 3rd century BC. The place peaked at 75,000 people in the 2nd & 3rd centuries AD (think "a little smaller than Red Deer"). It was abandoned in the 9th century, then the marble left in the town was taken by Baroque architects and builders to decorate Rome. So as a town it lasted about 1,400 years, and it's been sitting there disintegrating for the last 1,000 years.

Ostia is known for lots of stuff, including:

  • Floor tile mosaics in the houses and large public baths;
  • Obvious bars, wine shops and restaurants;
  • An excellent amphitheatre, that has been restored several times and is still used for concerts;
  • Public washrooms

Being there today, I was reminded of Col. Chris Hadfield, who has been on the International Space Station for the last 6 months. He's taken 10,000 pictures so far. How do you share this many pictures with people? You can't. We took 600 today. I can't even come close to sharing everything that's in Ostia. Here's perhaps 20 or so highlights. I gotta warn you: I like amphitheatres and columns.
Floor mosaics in the public Baths of Neptune
The theatre, which seats ~4,000
One of the 4,000
Studies in seating
Seating studies part 2
Bar, circa 200 AD. Displays in the foreground. Oven and service in the back
The menu, al Fresco. Literally.
Ruins, ruins and more ruins.
City Hall, sort of
More mosaics, this time advertising the business as a fishmonger
More intact frescoes
3 story buildings
Column (Ionic), framed
Human, (Karen), framed
Intricate mosaics
Coloured floor mosaics 
More columns
Bathroom. Seats about 30. Social defecating. Hmmmn...
Columnar sky view
One more amphitheatre study
It spat rain on us three times today for a total of about 20 minutes. No biggie.

Ostia's easy to access, right on the Rome-Lido metro line, which starts at the Piramide station on the Metro B line. For us, being on the opposite side of the city, it took 90 minutes to get there, and another 90 to get back. 90 minutes during rush hour on the way home, meaning we stood the whole way, after a day on cobblestones...
The Decimus Maximus, AKA the "Main Drag"
...meaning sore feet. Really worth it, though.

If I was doing it all over again, I would pay FAR less attention to the uninteresting necropolis stuff at the entrance. I would head to the farthest end, and look there first. The most interesting and best preserved stuff is way in the back anyway, such as the Terme del Sette Sapienti and the spectacular Casa deli Aurighi. And that stuff's a LONG way from the entrance.

1 comment:

Louie said...

Loving your blog posts on Roma! Makes me miss it more than I already do. Gotta go back!!!!