Ostia Antica

By Rick Steves

Find the map (30 yards inside the gate) for an orientation.tour_archeo.JPG

1. Necropolis: Ancient Romans buried their dead outside the city walls. In the second and third centuries A.D., the Romans here buried their dead in marble and terracotta sarcophagi in tombs.

2. Porta Romana: Ahead (where the road gets narrow) you enter Ostia's Porta Romana faced Rome.

3. Republican Warehouses (Magazzini Repubblicani): The goods of the port, such as grain from Sicily, Egypt, and all of North Africa, were processed and stored in warehouses here before being consumed by Rome.

4. Baths of Neptune (Terme di Nettuno): Baths of Neptune, including a fine mosaic with Neptune riding four horses through the sea.

5. Square of the Guilds (Piazzale delle Corporazioni): This grand square evolved from a simple place — where businessmen would stroll and powwow together — to become a monumental square lined with more than 60 offices of ship-owners and traders.

6. Theater (Teatro): Up to 4,000 residents could gather here for entertainment. Climb to the top of the theater for a fine view.

7. Mill (Molino): Via dei Molini, several lava millstones that were used to grind grain

8. Via Casa di Diana: a great example of an insula (multi-storied tenement complex, where the lower middle-class lived). Across the street, and down another 30 yards, is an inn called the Insula of the Thermopolium. Belly up to this tavern's bar. You'll see display shelves for food and drinks for sale, a small sink, and scant remains of wall paintings.

9. Forum: Ostia's main square became a monumental Forum in Imperial period. Opposite the Capitolium is the Temple of Roma and Augustus. Its position is powerfully symbolic.

10. Forum Baths (Terme del Foro): Ostia's best and largest baths. Government-subsidized baths were a popular social and business meeting place in any Roman city. From the baths you can look across the street to the 20-hole latrine.

11. Ostia Museum: This small museum offers a delightful look at some of Ostia's finest statuary

12. Archeological Scavenger Hunt:

1. Tarp- and sand-protected mosaic flooring.

2. White cornerstones put into buildings to fend off wild carts and reflect corners in the dark.

3. Fast-food fish joint (on Decumanus Maximus, just beyond the Forum).

4. Hidden bits of fresco (clue: under hot tin roofs).

5. Republican buildings and buildings dating from the Empire.

6. Stucco roughed up for fresco work (before applying the wet plaster of a fresco, the surface needs to be systematically gouged so the plaster can grip the wall).

7. Mill stones for grinding grain (Ostia's big industry).

8. Floor patterns made colorful with sliced columns.

9. A domus (single-family dwellings always faced a fancy central open-air courtyard).