If you have heard a lot about Pompei, would love to see an ancient Roman city, but are wondering if a 3 ½ hours journey is worth it, look no further! In 45 minutes, let me take you to Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, every bit as interesting as Pompei.
Ostia experienced its peak between the 1. century B.C. and the 2. century, when it was a bustling city of about 50.000 inhabitants (to have an idea of its size, keep in mind Pompei had just 15.000!). Ostia was the port were the goods imported from all corners of the Roman Empire reached the capital, and it was the place were people would stay waiting to board the ships when embarking on a trip to some far-away province.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, it was abandoned, pillaged, overgrown by vegetation, damaged by earthquakes. The ruins got systematically excavated only from the 1920s on: that’s the main reason why Ostia is less famous than Pompei. Pompei has been around for travelers to visit since the 1700s, and was often described by artists and famous writers; besides, the dramatic way Pompei was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, added a lot to the fascination of the place.
In Ostia, you’ll find yourself immersed in an ancient Roman city: you’ll see not only the mosaic-covered public baths, the stunning theatre and the impressive remains of the temples, but also shops, restaurants, toilets, apartment buildings, nice homes for the middle-class. It’s the best place to see not only great ruins, but to experience how the Romans lived their everyday life. It’s also a perfect place for your kids to enjoy!