Ostia (day trip)
It was foggy when we got up, which promised to lift and it did, giving us a wonderfully blue sky for the day. So we took the metro to Piramides (via the Termini transfer) and caught the train down to Ostia — perhaps 20 minutes in all. Walk over the bright blue bridge, and you’re there.
The ruins are much more extensive than I had thought even after reading up about them in more than one guidebook. They just go on for what seems like miles and miles. There’s a cemetery before you enter the city proper, then there’s “cheap” baths next to the granery storage presumably to keep traffic down aaand the riffraff cleaned up before they hit town. Lots of old temples, insulae (high density housing), more baths — bigger and more elaborate the closer to the center. Since many houses were not equipped with baths (and much of the insulae were without kitches as well, so eating out was common too) the baths were the social centers of the town. The floor mosaics in many of the baths have survived and are quite amazing, composed of perhaps 1cm square bits of marbles in all kinds of patterns.
What’s also surprising is considering the size of some of these buildings — often four stories or so — they built floors with very high cielings. Hight limits were 66 feet. This was obviously a thriving bustling city in its day.
As you go on, there are bigger structures in the center — temples, forums, and commercial centers. These latter actually ringed the major temple (which was across from the theater, very deliberate Roman placement) so you could quickly check to see if the gods favored a particular venture or not. The commercial centers all had mosaic tiles in front with symbols representing their trades — presumably for the illiterate and/or non-latin speaking (and hey, even deaf) people.
There was a tavern with the bar and food storage areas clearly visible and even an outside courtyard to dine in. Also an old miller and bakers building, with many of the mills (different grades or high production?) still laying around, and even two ovens still surviving.
Unfortunately we missed the museum, which had shorter hours on Sunday and was already closed by the time we reached it. Still there was so much to see, we hardly missed it.
We came back to the flat for an early dinner and then went back out again for a night time view of the palazzo venetio on the capitolio. It’s all lit up an dyou can see the forum ruins behind it as well. We puzzled out the #492 route a littel more — each time we come here we seem to discover another set of useful bus stops in the area.
I keep getting asked to take pictures by other tourists. I must look honest; at the same time none of them seem to think I speak English. I keep quiet so they can happily imagine they asked a real live italian to take their picture…