A trip to Ostia Antica

Wednesday 4 December 2019. Ostia Antica is an archaeological park, the site of ancient Rome’s port. Close to the centre of Rome yet far enough away to feel somewhat rural, it makes for a marvellous (half) day out. Its sights are not spectacular – there is nothing like the Colosseum – but the ruins are extensive and very interesting, with baths, warehouses, public latrines, temples, and even fire-fighters’ barracks! And the amphitheatre is impressive. When we visited on a beautiful sunny day in December 2019 it was a great pleasure to wander among the quiet ruins with so few other tourists. And those pine trees – magnificent! To get there, we caught the train from Porta San Paolo station in Testaccio to Ostia Antica station, a journey of 20–25 minutes (using regular BIT tickets), then walked five minutes to the entrance of the archaeological park. We were greatly amused by the talking ticket validators. Before catching the train to Ostia Antica, however, we visited the peaceful Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (Protestant Cemetery), where one finds Keats and Shelley. It’s opposite Porta San Paolo; the rather extraordinary Pyramid of Cestius is on the corner. Then, after our return to Rome, we walked to Trastevere via the Aventine Hill, stopping at the so-called Knights of Malta Keyhole (through which one has a perfect view of St Peter’s Basilica in miniature) and the lovely Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), with its splendid views over the city. Safely back in Trastevere, we made our usual visit to 404 Name Not Found, whose hot chocolate was highly regarded by the Handelettes.

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