It took one full day to take a trip to Ancient Ostia which was well worth it as in our minds these ancient Roman ruins rivaled what we saw in Pompeii. Two of us started out with our morning cappuccino and cream croissant before taking the metro located at the Piazza del Popolo. After just one easy transfer we exited the Ostia stop within half an hour. We followed the signs which directed us to a pedestrian street overpass and then we were witness to acres of an entire Roman harbor city before our eyes with just a few tourists present. Here and there, we saw families with children climbing and playing on the Roman foundations and left over structures.
It was a beautiful day. This is a great place to bring a picnic of bread, cheese, salami, fruit, cookies, wine and plenty of water. We wondered for hours through walkways, structures, steps, fortresses, amphitheater, markets for just about anything, mosaic floors, houses, stores just letting our imaginations run wild.
The following are excerpts regarding Ostia Antica from the travel book which was sold at the ticket booth located at the entrance:
“This ancient city was found by Ancus Marcius at the end of the 7th century BC in an area occupied in the 8th century BC by the settlement of Fianca (today’s Monte Cugno). The oldest structures brought to light during archaeological excavations, mostly carried out between the mid 19th century and the 1940s, may however be dated to the early 4th century BC.”
“What is certain is the antiquity of the use of the area, justified by the important role this part of the left bank of the Tiber had in the salt trade.(This was the only route to the salt beds at the mouth of the Tiber.) This strategic importance thus led, starting in the 8ty-7th century BC, to an interest by the Romans.”
“The initial role of Ostia Antica, built in the 4th century BC, considered as the first colony of Rome, populated by around 300 citizens, was control of the river route. The very form of the settlement, a rectangle, protected by defense walls in large tuff blocks recalling those of a castrum (encampment), reveals its essentially military purpose.”
“In 267 BC the port of the colony became the headquarters of one of the commanders of the Roman fleet, in charge of commanding the most demanding military operations.”
“From 212 BC it was in the rover port of Ostia that the grain intended for the military was stored and, progressively, the trade function prevailed over the military function. For example, the citizens of Ostia were exonerated, until 191 BC, from military service so that they could devote themselves to the harbor activities, and from the end of the 2nd century BC the quaestor (Roman public official in charge finance and administration for the government and the military) of Ostia dealt with the importing of grain which was ton be redistributed in Rome.”
“Toward the mid -1st century BC, Ostia won a greater autonomy from Rome, freeing itself from the tight control held up to that time by the quaestor, who resided there, and by several urban magistrates sent directly from Rome.”
At this point Ostia created their own government and appointed two local quastores to manage the city treasury.
“The highest religious office was the pontifex Volcani, who supervised the cult of Vulcan, the protector of the colony. After the death of Augustus, the first emperor, an office was established to be in charge of the deified dead emperor.”
This city continued to be prosperous for 310 years AD. “The city underwent a phase of renewed splendor starting in 111 AD, the year when the office of “curator of public buildings” was established, with the task of supervising Ostia’s great building renewal.”
We three ladies took another day to visit the Villa Borghese and its acres of gardens which was within a short walking distance from our apartment. Before there was Central Park in New York City, the Borghese gardens existed for centuries with a Villa displaying an unbelievable number of exceptional art exhibits, a lake with row boats, spectacular gardens, an outstanding zoo, and a place to rent bicycles.
We had tried unsuccessfully to make the required appointment by phone to view the art gallery of the Villa Borghese, but when we stopped at their service desk, we were fortunate enough to be scheduled later on the same day. With this bit of luck, we took time to saunter through the sprawling gardens and to eat at a café within the zoo.
After a couple of exhausting days from walking miles in exciting and interesting attractions such as at Ostia Antica and the Villa Borghese with its gardens, two of us would head on over to the Piazza del Popolo to sit and relax at the Caffé Carnova for a favorite alcoholic drink, the Spritz while we watched whatever was going on in the Piazza.
The kind waiter would bring each of us our drinks, some water and a plate full of sandwiches and treats at no extra cost (the drinks at a popular square are expensive enough). We would then walk to our apartment for some welcome sleep to get ready for another day of exploring.
We did take time out for a spa day. In the morning, after our treat at the Caffé Cavona, we stopped by Sephora on the Via del Corsa for a makeover which made us look so glamorous.
We discovered a great find, the Sunee Thai Massage Center located at Via Cavour n. 248, 00184 Roma, tel. 06 48939945; http://www.suneethai2.com. For 50 euros each of us were blessed with an hour’s massage. The center was meticulous, nicely appointed and well managed. The hostess who met us was very gracious and professional. We both concurred that this was the best massage that we had ever experienced.
Then we decided that both of us needed a manicure. I wanted to have my hair done and my friend had to have an oxygen facial treatment. We discovered Halos Lounge Spa which is near the Piazza del Popolo on a street to its left. The next street to the left, Via Margutta is where you can be pampered at the Halos Spa Lounge which is right across from our nearby favorite restaurant, Babette. The manager, Isabella Rodriguez was very accommodating and helpful. We both had manicures. My friend was extremely pleased with her oxygen induced facial. I was thrilled with the haircut and color treatment, expertly done by the talented hands of the hair stylist, Maurizio Grammenzi. And yes, I did receive lots of compliments over my terrific new look. We definitely plan to return to this full service spa in the spring of 2016. The email address is Isabella@halos-spa.it; phone 335 66 62 123. The phone number for Maurizio is 339 2542676; firstname.lastname@example.org.