Highlights of this tour

  • Visit to one of the largest and best preserved ancient Roman towns
  • Stroll in a beautiful countryside surrounded by marine pines
  • Experience everyday life in Ancient Rome
  • Relaxing discovery tour for families away from the crowds

ANCIENT OSTIA DISCOVERY

Ancient Ostia – Situated just 20 miles away from Rome, the ruins of Ostia Antica can be a perfect half day excursion: away from the crowds of Rome, surrounded by a beautiful quiet countryside and dotted with refreshing maritime pines, a visit to this large and extremely well-preserved ancient Roman town will prove relaxing, educational and entertaining for the whole family.

According to tradition, Ostia was founded in the 7th century BC by King Ancus Marcius, but the first archaeological evidence dates to the 4th century BC. Ostia derives its name from ‘ostium’= river mouths, as once it stood where the Tiber river gets into the Mediterranean. It was the first maritime colony of Rome, after the victories on the Etruscans; it provided Rome with salt and worked as a military base for the Roman fleet, that departed from here to conquer other Mediterranean countries.

Another important function Ostia developed was that of warehouse for the wheat arriving from Sardinia and Etruria. By the time Rome became an Empire under Augustus it was a town in full expansion, with some 50,000 inhabitants. Emperors Claudius and Trajan endowed the city with two artificial harbors, used for the unloading of goods arriving from Northern African and Western Mediterranean colonies, which were then sent to Rome on smaller barges. Ostia grew more and more cosmopolitan.

Roman Emperors generously provided to enrich Ostia with new prestigious buildings and the city prospered as a commercial center for about three centuries. But the silting up of the Tiber ad the competition with Portus caused the decline of Ostia and suffered a serious blow under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD. Ostia did not die because of a sudden disaster as Pompei, it was progressively abandoned by its inhabitants and became a ‘ghost town’, little by little covered by sand and mud.

The excavations began in the early 19th century under Pope Pius VII, and proceeded in 1909 with Pius IX, but received a strong impulse under Mussolini. The works of excavation continue today. After Pompeii, Ostia is the largest archaeological area in the world and certainly one of the most impressive.

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Our Ancient Ostia discovery departs from central Rome on a private car, with English speaking professional driver and guide and will last four hours. We’ll spend about three hours on the ruins, which are opened every day except on Mondays.

Ancient Ostia has a regular plan, with a main street, the ‘Decumanus Maximus’, along which we find a variety of extremely well-preserved constructions, ranging from theaters, baths, temples, public offices, to shops of any kind taverns, apartment buildings, public toilets (these are quite well known and surprising).

Inner decorations are often in a great state of preservation and it is not difficult to picture the everyday life of this town, that for some 800 years ran parallel to Rome: you can imagine yourself buying fish at the fishmonger, having a sneak at the ‘Thermopolium’, that was a sort of fast food were people could have a quick lunch. The apartment buildings, called ‘insulae’ are very often still two-store high, and we’ll be allowed to climb the stairs and visit the rooms with very few other people around us!

Your guide will point out all the most important sites of interest and will help you reconstructing your very special ‘day in Ancient Rome’ as if we had a time-machine at our disposal! Amongst the other, we shall see:

The Baths of Neptune, with magnificent black and white mosaic floor

The House of the Vigili (or Firemen)

The very well-preserved Theater

The Thermopolium, were you’ll be introduced to Ancient Roman cuisine

The great ‘Forum of Corporations’, where we’ll talk about all the different jobs and professions

The Fishmongers’ shops, with their dolphins, octopus and tritons.

The famous ‘toilets’, with inevitable picture all seated down on the ‘holes’!

The Mithreum at The Baths of Mithra, where you’ll learn about this ancient (and quite mysterious) Roman religion.

In 1961, accidentally, the ruins of what proved to be a Synagogue appeared during road-building. Professor Squarciapino immediately started excavations and found two huge marble beams with an image of a Menorah carved into each of them. It was a major discovery as it is a large monumental building and the the oldest synagogue ever found in Europe. On request we can include it in our tour.

Our driver will bring us back to Rome.

Cost of this tour

  • This tour lasts four hours and costs 700 euros up to six people (not per person), only private parties.
  • Includes: private car with English speaking professional driver and private guide services
  • For larger parties send us an email!
  • Admission fees per person: 10 euro – reduced price: 5 euro
  • Ostia Antica archeological site is closed on Mondays

Dress Code and advice

  • Please wear comfortable shoes or sandals.
  • A hat and sunscreen could be useful in summer!