Monday, December 7, 2009

Day trip to Ostia Antica

I spent an afternoon at Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman colony founded in 620 B.C. It’s a quick 30 minute trip on the metro so I decided to go there one afternoon last week and check it out.

The funny (or sad?) thing is that I was so spooked out by the place that there were a couple instances where I didn’t do/see everything I should. I just didn’t expect the place to be so damn creepy! Just imagine traipsing through a bunch of old ruins, its nearly deserted, deathly quiet, in the middle of nowhere, with crazy pigeons popping out of every corner to scare you half to death. Yep.

Like at one point, I walked down this long deserted backstreet to check out the old tenement-housing complex. It was built for the lower-middle class families, complete with several 5-story apartment buildings and even a tavern that had a real bar with shelves for food & drinks, a sink and wall paintings— very cool.

Towards the back of the area there was a building with stairs you could climb up to take a peek inside the apartments from above. I really wanted to look inside. But after a few minutes wandering through the deserted, maze-like place the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up (it was Ostia’s “projects” after all).

It was like being in a horror movie and I just though, 'You need to get your ass out of here before this turns into some sort of Night of the Living Dead situation!' So I quickly left—walked back out and onto the main path where there were at least a few other living humans. Its so stupid, believe me, I know. Why would I be freaked out by a bunch of old buildings? lol, as my mom would say, I need Jesus.

The thing was that it was a random Wednesday afternoon and it was late in the day so there were hardly any tourists around AT ALL. And the whole place has an eerie, frozen-in-time vibe… if I had known I wouldn’t have gone by myself. To my defense, my friend Ana went a few weeks ago and said she felt really creeped out too and left early. So I’m not totally crazy :)

(The Theatre)

Anyway, here are more pictures from the trip. It was still awesome. Very cool to wander around an ancient village, its so amazingly preserved (the entire town was covered in mud after a bad storm which preserved it and kept it safe from medieval thieves until the excavation in the 1930s and 40s). At the same time, its always hard for me to really wrap my mind around something of this magnitude. This town was here centuries before Christ. That’s a whole lot of history!

(The Thermal Baths of Neptune... cool mosaics on the floor)
(The Mill from 120 A.D., where grains were ground by twisting those blocks of stone)
(An oven to bake bread)
(The Grand Temple/Forum, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva)
(Gov't-subsidized forum baths: it had steam rooms, pools, masseuses, the works!)


  1. Funny that u felt spooked. Pics look great though, will have to put that on my list.

  2. Definitely will have to visit (but not alone)!

  3. Great photos. Looks a lot like Pompeii.

  4. Great article and photo's, one thing which is also handy to mention. Don't go there on monday because then it's closed (guess how I found this out...)