Ostia Antica, ancient Roman ruins: a hidden gem just a half hour from Rome

Ostia Antica graves 5x7 smallWe went to these ancient Roman ruins two days ago and they were a spectacular glimpse into the lives of Romans from 3 BC to about the 8th century AD when it was finally abandoned. Rick Steves says on his site: “Wandering around the ruins today, you’ll see the remains of the docks, warehouses, apartment flats, mansions, shopping arcades, and baths — all giving a peek at Roman lifestyles.” The first part of the site is the Necropolis (city of the dead) a large area of mass tombs just outside the city gate. Romans first cremated their dead, and as time went on they started burying the bodies above ground in sarcophagi .  Those little niches were for the cremated remains in what was probably a family grave. Since the apartments that people lived in did not have any bathing or toilet facilities the public baths and latrines were open to all citizens. Here is a photograph of a public latrine; ” There were public toilets where people sat side by side. The seats [often marble] had a hole cut out, and the waste matter would drop down to be carried away by the drains.”Ostia Antica latrines small There was an aqueduct that brought fresh water to the city; here is a photograph of one of the neighborhood cistern/ fountains where people could come out to get water.Ostia Antica fountain small They did not have kitchens in their small apartments so there were fast food places on the corners to eat out.  Here I am behind the bar of one of these food places.  There was even a patio in the back where you could sit and eat by a small fountain.Ostia Antiqua Linda bar small  There are still many mosaic floors that feature the themes of fishing on the grounds of the baths , here is a large black and white fish of some kind.Ostia Antiqua tile floors small

The almost complete Roman theater was really interesting.  I think they still do some plays here in the summer.Ostia Antica drama mask small Ostia Anticia Roman theater small

We had lunch at the snack bar.  It was so good to rest our feet and eat something.  We bought something called chicken and potatoes ( it did not look like chicken to us…mystery meat).  But dessert  was chocolate gelato that was great.Ostia Antica gelato small Getting there is easy: Metro Line A to Piramide (yes, there’s a real pyramid that was built by a first-century important man) and then take the train for about 30 minutes, all for €1.50. Admission is €8 usually. We had a great time though we did walk 26,000 steps (almost 10 miles ) that day.  We got home and went to sleep early.

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