We had one free day in Italy and there was no shortage of options of what to see and do. We could take the three-hour train ride to Lucca (secretly hoping) or head to the Amalfi coast as we initially planned. The medieval town of Montegallo also crept into the conversation. "B" kept mentioning Ostia and Assisi - I think I vetoed Ostia and was indifferent to Assisi. I threw Tivoli into the mix mainly due to its proximity to Rome - nothing else. Eventually, we compromised and decided that a six-hour round trip to either Lucca or the Amalfi Coast was not worth it (especially with the sun setting at 4 p.m. in the winter time). We agreed to head to Ostia and Tivoli - both were within an hour of Rome and cost less than 5 euros round trip.
Our decision to go to Ostia was affirmed by both the hotel concierge and the attendant at the train station. They both beamed with joy when we mentioned Ostia. Our hotel concierge even went on to express his extreme like for us venturing out of Rome and exploring in his word "the heart of Italia" - That said, we felt like we had made a pretty great decision as we headed out for the day. We started off the day in Ostia. I was not sure what to expect, unlike most trips I take, I did not have anything specific I wanted to do or see.
Getting To Ostia. The entire trip took less than an hour, and a normal metro ticket costing 1.25 euros each way was all we needed for the trip to Ostia. We found the best way to get to Ostia was via the Metro leaving from Piramide station. From Piramide, take the train headed to Lido and get off at the Ostia Antica stop. Arriving in Ostia, we walked across the pedestrian bridge, crossed a busy road, and walked about 100m to arrive at the entrance.
Entrance to Ostia. The entrance ticket cost eight euros since we were not students and we were non-EU members between a certain age. We were told the tickets were valid for the entire day so we could leave and return at will (we did not do that), but I will imagine that if you inform the guards at the entrance you will be returning, that (along with your ticket) should suffice. There were maps at various intervals and about five routes (covering 40 plus must-see sites). We were only able to see three of the routes because we planned to spend the afternoon in Tivoli and I was not wearing the most comfortable shoes (and my feet were starting to revolt as we walked the grounds).
Ostia is fifteen miles from Rome and has been standing for over 2000 years (think "BC") - can you believe it ? It is one of the large archeological sites standing today. It was founded in 620 B.C and we got to walk the grounds - past the light house ; the forum baths and the grand square of the guilds. It was surreal for me and I was dissapointed we could not spend more time exploring. Unfortunately, Tivoli was calling.
When we were planning the trip to Rome, we wanted a day trip to Pompei but realized it was too cumbersome to pull off. I am glad I got to visit another architectural ruin. It was a very unique (and informative) experience and although I was not fully sold on the idea of this day trip initially - I am glad we got to spend some time in Ostia. Even more incredible was finding out this city has been in existence since 4 B.C (Uhm - what the what ?!?!).