DAY 4 - OSTIA ANTICA
Today (Thurs 24th May) I planned a day out from the Rome centre and opt for Ostia Antica.
I skip breakfast in the hotel as I don’t think I can face another cheese & ham roll or bland bowl of cereals!
I pop into McDonalds naively thinking that they do a breakfast menu like back in blighty.
They DON’T, I was just greeted with blank looks, so I opt for two cheese & ham (again!) toasties off the ‘Happy Meal’. Same old breakfast ingredients but at least it’s warm and toasted and is savoury. It's no egg & bacon McMuffin but it's better than those rolls!
I do the usual route to Ostia Antica which is well documented on this forum…
Metro A > Metro B (Piramide) >Ostia Lido Train >Ostia Antica
All on one ticket (I’m using an ‘all day’ ticket now which cost 4euros and is well worth it).
The Lido train is completely covered in graffiti and its standing room only, but not too crowded, but VERY HOT.
The train journey takes about 45 mins and again there is just graffiti like you have never seen before along the way (unless you’re from NY!). And lots of grim looking blocks of flats everywhere. In fact of all the journeys I took outside of Rome centre and in different directions, I didn’t see one single house or housing estate, just blocks of flats everywhere!
Just opposite the Ostia Antica site is a castle and small medieval hamlet which is worth a look. You can also top up your water here. Unfortunately the castle seemed to be closed which I was looking forward to (I do like a castle now and again)
Onto the Ostia ruins and it’s another baking hot day.
This is one place that I wanted and audio guide, but unfortunately they had sold out, so I had to rely on the map for 2 euros (which is ESSENTIAL). Just watch out for tour guides pushing in at the ticket office GRRR!
The ruins are enormous and I must have spent all day walking round.
There are lots to see and you can walk in and out most of the ruins. Some are very well preserved and on a few you can even go on the roofs (not the original roofs obviously).
It seems to go on and on, it’s truly overwhelming and gets a big ‘WOW’ from me.
The amphi theatre is the highlight for me which is at the halfway point and a good place for some rest in the nearby shade under the trees. There’s also a drinking water nearby which you will probably need to top up your supply.
There are huge mosaic floors, frescos on walls, statues, marble tables, original Roman Streets (NOT recommended to walk on as you risk twisting your ankle!).
It really is astonishing how well preserved it is (Apparently its Italy’s third best preserved ancient Roman town. I assume after Herculaneum and Pompeii, although I think it was buried under silt for 100s of years rather than lava and ash).
Sometimes as you come across certain things you just stop and think to yourself that you are walking directly in the footsteps of the ancient Romans in THEIR streets and IN THEIR houses.
There’s a welcome café at the halfway point which serves the usual pre-heated food.
I opt for macaroni which then gets put in the microwave for re-heating!
Then the bit I don’t like which all these cafes seem to do (including McDonalds).
You have to order your food & hot drink, get your food and then take your receipt over to the hot drink counter and wait in line (AGAIN!) for your hot drink (Tea as usual for me).
By the time you get your tea/coffee the food is stone cold! AARRGHHH!
Why can’t they do it all on one line like in the UK???
Anyway, it’s edible, the tea is fine and a big pot (as usual) but the NOISE of all the school kids is deafening!!
On I trek and see most of the remainder of the ruins (there’s still excavations and expansions going on).
One thing I’ll say negative about digital cameras (and camera phones) which I have witnessed before at tourist spots, but more so here. A lot of people just seem to get quickly take a photo of something and then head off without really taking the time to look at it with their own eyes or even read the information plaque. They just don’t seem to take it in ‘savour the moment’. There was one young couple on the site that I bumped into quite frequently where every time the man was positioning his girlfriend strategically in front of a ruin, much like a photographer and model on a fashion shoot. He was doing all the time and not once did they actually stop and look at the ruin or artefact with any real interest.
It was just click click click all the time…WEIRD! Needless to say the poor girl looked bored out of her mind!
I think I left the site around 4.30pm after getting there midday (nearly five hours !!) and I get back to Rome smack bang in the rush hour and the metro is jam packed and very hot & sweaty!
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying day. Ostia Antica is highly recommended, but be warned it can hard going especially in the heat, so be well prepared for the conditions.
Maybe be better to arrive later in the day when the sun’s not as hot. Not sure what time it closes but there were still lots of people arriving as I was leaving around 4.30pm
Outside the hotel I get one of those fake ‘Gucci’ handbags which my sister wanted me to get for her daughter. She knows they’re fake and all week I’ve been trying several different sellers in getting one for under 10euros. But that must be their absolute minimum.
They always start off at a ridiculously high price like 100euros insulting your intelligence in insisting they are the genuine article. Without haggling I jus offer him 10euors (I’m tired of going through the haggling ritual) which he duly accepts.
After crashing out on my hotel bed for a few hours I decide that tonight I’ll do some ‘night photography’ around Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum.
For night shots I tend to use a dedicated ‘beanie bag’ that screws into the tripod fitting on the bottom of the camera. This allows me to mount camera on most surfaces and ‘mould’ it into position. It’s not as good as decent tripod but it’s small, compact and very portable.
I realise I left my right angle viewfinder in the hotel so I have to get down on my knees to compose the low shots. VERY undignified!
But I did remember to bring the infra red shutter release which is essential for hands free night shots and long exposures.
I was surprised how quiet the Piazza Campidoglio is, just two police cars and a handful of people around. Fine by me, it’ll make for better night photographs without blurry people in the shot. I wish people would stand still for a couple of seconds during my night shots ;)
I was disappointed to see that the Forum was not lit up. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen photos of it lit up. Not so for the Colosseum which is nicely lit and have used one of the shots on my PC desktop as I type! I resist temptation in buying a tripod from one of the many street sellers around.
Looking back I think sunset would have been a better setting for photos over the Forum…Maybe next year.
Several shots later I decide to get the bus back before my all day bus ticket turns into a pumpkin (expires at midnight). My feet are way too tired to venture anywhere else tonight.
(Still no blisters !!)
Tomorrow is my last full day in Rome and it’s a toss up between staying local and visit somewhere new or one of me fave haunts or take another day out to maybe Tivoli or (legs permitting!) Pompeii
Final Day 5 to follow