If you have already been to Rome, and/or you would like to visit Pompeii but don't have time, consider visiting the beautifully preserved ruins of Ostia Antica, Rome's ancient seaport. It was founded, probably in the 4th century BC, as a military colony to guard the river mouth against seaborne invasions. Later, during the centuries when virtually all imports reached the Capital via the Tiber, Ostia gained prominence as the domestic landing for cargo boats. By the 2nd century AD, it had become a flourishing commercial center inhabited by upwards of 100,000 people, whose apartment buildings, taverns, and grocery shops are still intact. Although Ostia now sprawls over 10,000 acres, around a main street that runs for more than a mile, it is still easy to imagine the local shepherds who for centuries sheltered their animals amongst its ruins, for they are an integral part of the tranquil Roman countryside. No modern houses, roads or telephone wires are visible on the horizon. The streets are so quiet one hears only the crickets in the trees and perhaps the echoes of ancient children playing stickball. As you walk along Ostia's main street, the Decumanus Maximus, your feet settle into deep ruts left by carrucas, the four-wheeled carts used to ferry merchandise and baggage between Rome and Ostia.
You have two options for visiting Ostia Antica. Take an in-depth tour with Michael, Dennis or Stefano, traveling for about 25 minutes by aboveground rail. Dennis, an American artist who has lived in Rome for over three decades, has exhibited his works throughout the world and is also head of the high school art department at one of Rome's most prestigious schools. Michael, also a Rome resident for 35 years, has just finished co-authoring National Geographic's upcoming Guide to Rome, and teaches medieval history at another of Rome's international schools. Stefano is a young Anglo-Italian with a university degree in Classical Archaeology who has participated in digs throughout Italy.
2016 Prices for half-day trips: 2 people: 257 EURO 3 people: 329 EURO 4 people: 401 EURO 5 people: 463 EURO 6 people: 545 EURO
Price includes public transportation fares and guide. Entrance fees are extra and cost 8 Euro/person.
The ruins are closed on Mondays and are open on other days as follows:
During Daylight Savings Time: 8:30-6pm
Or travel with a specialized guide by private car. After a private guided tour of Ostia Antica, you will get back in the car and drive up the coast to the delightful little town of Cerveteri, where you will break for lunch, and then move on to the Etruscan necropolis. Little is known of the Etruscans, a people who sprang to importance in the 8th century BC. At the height of their power, their influence spread from the Po Valley to Campania, even encompassing ancient Rome, which finally defeated them in the 3rd century BC. The Etruscans' demise may be partly attributed to their ephemeral attitude towards life on this earth, which led them to build their homes of wood and clay. On the other hand, their tombs were built to last forever, which is why their necropolis is a cemetery like none you've ever seen. Situated in the tranquil countryside, it is a real town whose streets and squares are lined with massive tumuli and rectangular tombs cut into the rock. To protect these precious relics, the locals open them a few at a time in rotation, so we can't say which you'll see, but it might include the Tomb of the Capitals, which will show you what an Etruscan home looked like, or the Tomb of the Reliefs, decorated with painted stucco reliefs of weapons and household items. A trip through Etruria is one of the most interesting archeological excursions you can take in Italy.
This tour is available on request any day but Monday. It starts at 9 am and lasts approximately four hours.
Entrance tickets in Ostia and Cerveteri cost a total of 20 Euro/person extra, paid in cash during the tour (ticket prices may vary slightly without notice). Children under 6 years old are free of charge. If your group numbers more than 7, you will hear the guide better if you purchase audio headsets at the start of the tour for 4 Euro/person. The tour is available in English or Spanish.
2016 Prices 1 person:
Prices include private car and driver and personal tour guide.
Entrance tickets (20 Euro/person) and lunch are not included.