Ostia Antica

For my fifth day in Rome, I decided to head out to Ostia Antica and see the ruins of the ancient harbor city of Rome. I did not know just what I was in for, it was truly amazing and I think a must-see on any visit to Rome.

It’s surprisingly easy to get to, you can just take the Roma-Lido train from the station attached to Pyramide, it’s a 26 minute ride from there, and the standard Rome metro ticket works. A few stops further and you can get to the beach. But I really do recommend this place highly. It’s not hard to get to, it’s fantastic, and it’s also significantly less crowded than everything in Rome. There were a few school groups when I was there, but aside from that not a ton of people. And it’s a big enough place that you can go off the beaten path and feel completely alone and secluded at times.

The train ride in the morning was a bit funny, as it was jam-packed with teenagers headed to the beach for the day, which is only a couple stops past where I was headed. Made for an amusing train ride for sure. It was going to be 89 degrees (32C) in Rome that day but only around 79 (26C) closer to the beach, so a good day to get out of the city.

When I got to Ostia Antica, as I said, I didn’t know what to expect. It looked big on the map but I didn’t really have a sense of scale, until I got a good ways in. One thing I’d say, is don’t bother lingering too long in the early part. It’s the necropolis, and it’s okay, but as you get further in it gets much more impressive.

I don’t know how to compare the overall size to something, but it feels like you’re walking around a small city, or the entire downtown of a city. As you keep going, there is just more of it. In the beginning parts, it’s all pretty clear paths but as you go further in and the site expands, you can do a good bit of exploring. Wear good shoes, because some of the most fun I was having was trekking down some paths that were overgrown and getting weedy, and sometimes thorny, as you look to see what partially hidden gem you might come across next. A random building with an intact mosaic tile floor, interesting structures and bits of art, all manner of things. The areas they don’t want you go are pretty clearly blocked off, but there’s a surprising amount of free exploration you can go off and do if you’re so inclined, which I recommend. As you start thinking about the size and scale of this bustling harbor town and what all of these things might have been, I think it gets really fascinating. There are a number of places where there are stairs you can go up, do so. You get an even better perspective of the scale from the tops of various buildings.

I spent about 5 hours walking around the site. For those less interested in exploring lots of side paths, you could probably do it in a bit more than 3 hours and be reasonably happy. I could have explored a bit longer to be honest, as I was heading out I was still seeing things I hadn’t noticed or passed before. Do be prepared for a long day outside in the sun. There are several water spigots on site, so you can refill your water bottle. There’s also a small cafe for refreshments and a small museum on site that has some great sculpture.

All in all I thought it was a truly amazing place. I’m planning on going to Pompeii next week, so interested to see how I think they compare.

Some pictures from the day:

A large mosaic floor
A large mosaic floor
Ruins and Trees
Ruins and Trees
Pretty big amphitheatre
Pretty big amphitheatre
Walking on some old tiles
Walking on some old tiles

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I guess I should occasionally show that I'm at these places...
I guess I should occasionally show that I’m at these places…
The latrines. Close quarters probably made for lively conversations.
The latrines. Close quarters probably made for lively conversations.

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The Tiber has moved over the last two millennia, but still close
The Tiber has moved over the last two millennia, but still close
Ruins cat don't care
Ruins cat don’t care
Fishmongers
Fishmongers

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After Ostia Antica, I decided to take the train two stops further away from Rome to the Lido Centro station and go for a walk on the beach. It was a nice day and I thought that seemed like a nice way to finish it. I highly recommend this as a great way to follow up a day at Ostia Antica. I went for a long walk along the water’s edge, nice to get my shoes off after walking around the site all day. But there are also plenty of places to just have a drink and refreshment as well.

A couple of shots from the beach in Ostia. It’s only 30 minutes here from Rome, so also not a bad place to get away from the city for a beach day during a stay in Rome.

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4 Comments

  1. I loved Ostia. Film trivia: this is were Maximus’s army is supposedly camped at the end of Gladiator… it’s an easy reference to miss until you see the movie again.

    Great idea to go to the beach. Rome is too hot.

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