Private Ostia Antica Tour
– from Rome by Train
Ostia Antica is one of the most fascinating (and most underrated) attractions in Italy. The remains of this Ancient Roman port town are just half an hour away from Rome, yet they tend to be mysteriously overlooked by the majority of tourists. However, their loss is your gain – join a small group tour of Ostia Antica and explore the evocative, labyrinthine ruins of this intriguing town.
After meeting your group in central Rome, you’ll travel to Ostia Antica and join your guide for an in-depth, 4 hour tour of the archaeological site. With a group size limited to 12, this is an intimate tour, where you’ll have the opportunity to chat to your guide and ask questions.
Like Pompeii but Better
Ostia Antica resembles Pompeii, but without the crowds. And unlike Pompeii, Ostia Antica was not destroyed; the town fell into a slow decline over the centuries. At its peak, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Ostia Antica was home to 100,000 people and a busy port, but it slowly transformed from a commercial town into a country retreat for wealthy Romans. It was plundered by pirates in the Battle of Ostia, and then abandoned completely.
On your Ostia Antica tour you’ll get an insight into the life and times of the Ancient Roman town, exploring the well-preserved remains of some of its most important buildings, such as the impressive theatre (still in use today), grand temples like the Capitolium, and the thermal baths with their beautiful mosaics.
Your guide will also take you off the beaten path, showing you humble buildings like shops, bakeries and brothels, which offer a glimpse into the daily life of ordinary people. Look out for the ancient “fast food restaurant”, with its painted menu still visible, and the laundrette where workers would have used urine as a detergent…
For a memorable day trip from Rome, join an expert guide in Ostia Antica for a stroll down cobbled streets and a journey back in time.
HISTORY OF ANCIENT OSTIA
King Ancus Martius—so goes the legend—founded the town in the seventh century BC, on the very spot were Aeneas had landed, the hero arrived from Troy after its destruction and the legendary founder of Rome. However, archeologists and scholars have found evidence of the existence of this town only starting from the fourth century BC. A fortress was certainly here by then. This military settlement formed the very core of a village that rapidly grew into a busy port as Rome’s sea trade increased in scale and it became a major naval power. Imports arrived here from every corner of the Empire and from all the new provinces conquered by the Roman legions, near and far. Here they were stored safely and then transported to the Capital by the so-called Via Ostiensis, still existing, or by river. During the civil war in the first centuryBC the city was destroyed and then rebuilt and enclosed in a great wall, soon later the emperors started to expand the port and to build new harbors.
By the end of the second century AD Ostia had become a densely populated city of more than 50,000 inhabitants—indeed a huge number for an ancient town (although still nothing compared to Rome which had more than one million inhabitants. The Colosseum itself could actually host, some say, up to 80,000 people! Still all sorts of people lived in Ostia, soldiers and shopkeepers, traders and seamen. The many streets, squares, baths, temples, and other public buildings, including the Capitolium and one of the best preserved ancient amphitheater in the world, together with a great number of fine private houses, bear witness of the importance of the city. Mosaics, frescoes, statues and bas-relieves are still visible, although the most precious finds have been taken to the nearby museums that you still can visit on our tour of Ostia. Only during the third century the city slowly started losing its importance and it was completely abandoned in the eighth century with the arrival of the Barbarians and after an epidemic of malaria. Ostia was just a ghost town up until the 19th century when the first archeological excavations had started freeing the ancient ruins from dirt and grass. One of the most sensational finds of recent years was certainly the discovery of an early Christian basilica near the city wall — a church probably initiated by Emperor Constantine.
** Ostia Antica is an ancent sites and not wheelchair friendly. We encourage those with walking disabilities to book a private tour, in order to allow the guide to adapt the pace to their specific needs.
Please don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!
Meeting Time: 8:40
Meeting Point: Central Location in Rome (Full details provided after booking)