Day 87 - Ostia Antica

8 March 2022

We need a day trip. Time to get out of Rome for the day. We have some breakfast and catch the train to Ostia Antica. From EUR Migliana station it is about 30 minutes to Ostia Antica Station. Total cost 3 euros for both of us.

“Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering.” ― Gary Snyder

Ostia Antica may have been one of Rome's first trading ports. It dates back to 400 BC. At its peak, home to almost 100 000 people. As the Roman Empire collapsed the population of Rome and Ostia contracted. As numbers dwindled, attacks for Arab pirates increased. By 500 AD it was deserted.

It was raided by Baroque architects for its marble in the 17th century. It was not until 1939 when Mussolini ordered massive excavations to be undertaken that the true scope of the city was revealed. Post World War II, the first volume of the official series Scavi di Ostia appeared in 1954; it was devoted to a topography of the town by Italo Gismondi and after a hiatus, the research still continues today.

“Every archaeologist knows in his heart why he digs. He digs, in pity and humility, that the dead may live again, that what is past may not be forever lost, that something may be salvaged from the wreck of ages.” ― Geoffrey Bibby

There is much to admire as we walk through these ruins. Firstly, just how preserved the site is and the access available to the public. Secondly, the sheer size of the city. Finally, we have it practically to ourselves. This site dwarfs the ruins in Rome. Certainly not the Coliseum as a single monument, but this is an entire city.

We walk around. Impressed by the architecture. The sheer scale of the buildings. The temples and amphitheater in particular. We are both thinking the same thing. Shell verbalises it first. Just how insignificant we are in history and time. The walls around us are 2500 years old. Ancient. 2500 years is nothing in the timeline of existence. In that framework, we are a grain of sand on a beach. Utterly insignificant.

“It is possible that these millions of suns, along with thousands of millions more we cannot see, make up altogether but a globule of blood or lymph in the veins of an animal, of a minute insect, hatched in a world of whose vastness we can frame no conception, but which nevertheless would itself, in proportion to some other world, be no more than a speck of dust.” ― Anatole France

Shell only wants to go into places that are forbidden. Every chained fence she encounters results in her finding a low wall to jump. I just stand there and watch her jump walls. It is like traveling with a delinquent.

We head back to the train station to head into the new Ostia for lunch. Our tickets have stopped working. I only have a 50 euro note and the machine won’t accept. We find a ticket in one of the machines and both squeeze through the gate just as the train arrives. We dash down the stairs, through the tunnel, and up onto the platform. Just in time. No tickets. I am wondering if we will get off the station?

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso

We do. Straight out the stairs and walk to a little pasta place Shell has found. Antipasto to start. Freshly made ravioli of fungi. Fettuccine with chinghiale ragu. If there is a better ragu than wild boar, I have not tried it. Once again the TV chefs have it incorrect. Not for the first time the pasta is thick. The paper-thin pasta on TV is a myth.

A stroll down to the beach with its black sand before we train home. With a ticket. Swap trains at EUR Magliana. A few stations later we disembark at Circo Massimo. An easy 4 km walk home. There is a chilling wind today but it is beautiful in the sun. As we walk home late in the afternoon Rome puts on an impressive sunset.

Grab some takeaway panini for dinner. Home. Write the blog and do some reading.

Doctor tomorrow and we see what is under Shell’s dressing.


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