Ostia Antica, walking through history

Love at first sight. This is the most common feeling you can experience in the archeological area of Ostia Antica. A breathless walk through history, a stunning place full of well-preserved roman ruins. This was the location of the harbour city of Ancient Rome, close to the River Tiber and the sea.

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It’s a really interesting visit for the whole family: both children and adults can easily imagine how this fortified citadel, founded in the IVth century BC, used to be. 

There are five main parts you can still admire: the commercial street, with official buildings, methods and sites of production. The sacred buildings, of different religious communities. The city centre: the baths, the market and the forum, which was the political heart of Ostia. The river-port quarters, with its paintings and mosaics,  and the area of Ostia Antica’s “modern buildings“.

There is also a Museum which holds some of the finest city’s statuary.

ostia-antica-2About 34 hectares of beauty, the equivalent to two thirds of the city’s original extension. The theatre is so well preserved that nowadays it is used for theatrical performances. And it’s simply fabulous.

Let your imagination take you back 2,000 years!

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Words cannot explain the atmosphere you can breath around there. It’s a really nice surprise: it even seems to hear voices and see the ancient Romans busy with their daily activities. This site is worth seeing: it’s a small, intimate Rome, which keeps the same magnificence.

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Hidden Rome Gems – Basilica di San Clemente

Ever wondered about Time travel? It definitely is possible!
Near the Coliseum towards the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano exists a magical and enchanted place where you can dive in 2000 years of history moving back in time with every step you take.

basilica-san-clementeThe Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica as well a unique architectural complex. Its structure is spectacular, the present basilica where you enter, is a 12th century medieval church which has 2 underground levels; the first is a 4th-century basilica that had been converted out of the home of a Roman nobleman, part of which had in the 1st century briefly served as an early church, and the basement of which had in the 2nd century briefly served as a mithraeum; and all erected on the foundations of a republican era building that had been destroyed in 64 AD in the Great Fire of Emperor Nero. (wiki)

If you love full immersion history experience as we do and curious about the incomparable underground world of the Eternal City – this hidden gem is waiting for you!

sotterraneiBeTreasure tip: early morning visit is highly recommended!

As the Basilica is a fairly known attraction and is frequented by tourist groups, it’s best to plan your visit early in the morning (the ticket office opens at 9 am) and try to be the first to visit the underground levels before the groups.

The experience is indescribable you must really try it to understand. Complete silence, darkness but not the hostile one, and frescoes that tell stories of long gone times… In the background you will only hear the flowing water of an underground fountain which dates back to the Imperial Rome era and is still running!
Try to follow the sound of the water, it will guide you to the most hidden corners and deep spots of the structure where you can admire the construction of the first century, the ancient State Mint (Zecca dello Stato) and a Roman house with original pavement, windows and frescoes.

altare-del-mitreo-di-san-clementeBeside the domus you will find a “mitreo“, the temple of Mithras with its altar depicting the god.

On the superior level, above the temple you find the construction of the 4th century where is built the first basilica dedicated to Saint Clement.
Here you can admire the affresco painting of the Madonna from the 8th century – and also here lies the tomb of Saint Cyril who was the inventor of the Cyrillic alphabet.

On this level there’s a very special affresco from about 1100 representing the miracle of Saint Clement. It appears like a cartoon and the curious particularity of the fresco is that it reports the first written testimony of profanity (swearing) “traite fili de le pute“.

Climbing back to the street level you can visit the current Basilica of San Clemente. The medieval church features a marvellous 12th-century apse mosaic depicting the Trionfo della Croce (Triumph of the Cross) and some wonderful Renaissance frescoes in the Chapel of St Catherine.

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BeTreasure tip: For a snack or breakfast don’t miss Ciuri Ciuri – the art of Sicilian Cannoli in via Labicana, just right in front of the basilica!

 

Hidden Rome Gems – Tombs of Via Latina

The Roman Roads (Consular Roads – as the extraurban constructions were named) were extremely important for the imperial Rome as they connected the various parts of the Roman Empire allowing comunication and fast movements between the territories. We’re talking about hundred thousand kilometers of roads…

The Queen Road (the viarium Queen, the “most relevant among all roads”) was via Appia, the Appian Way going, in the beginning, from Rome to Capua. It was later extended up to Brindisi. And the mother (matrona) of the Consular Roads was via Latina, its origins dated back to the 8th century b.C. as an ancient Etruscan Road connected Rome with Campania.

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This autumn, after three years of reconstruction works, the walkable part of via Latina has been doubled inside the breathtaking Archeological Park ‘Tombs of via Latina‘. The Archeological Park is one of the most important funerary complexes of the suburbium of Rome, and it still conserves the traditional aspect of the ancient Roman countryside practically intact. A consisent walkable part of via Latina is still covered with ancient flagstones and on both sides of the road there are numerous funeral monuments, historical and material testimonies.

What is immediately striking, is the peace and silence that surrounds us just a short walk from the city center. Crossing the park gate means leaving behind the siege of the modern city – noise, traffic, people… and suddenly one finds himself in a place where the time seems to be stopped for two thousand years.
If you like cats (they are almost everywhere in Rome) you will not be disappointed here. The cats of the park will follow you during your visit and sometimes will ask a few caresses.

BeTreasure Tip: Sit on one of the benches, perhaps with your favorite book and spend an hour, enjoying the silence or the song of grashoppers if you happen to come in summer.

Just after a few steps on the original pavement stones, on the right you arrive to the beautiful tomb of the Barberini, the first ‘sepulcrum’ on the way.You may want to book the organized tour for the tombs, in this case you can visit the Barberini Tomb of the second century b.C. Observe the mosaic floor and the magnificent architectural decorations originally painted.

sepolcro ValeriThe tour continues in the direction of the Tomb of the Valerii and the Tomb of the Pancratii late first century b.C. To enter the underground spaces you’ll always need a licensed tourguide in the group.Sepolcro-Valeri

In both burials you can admire the perfectly preserved beautiful frescoed and stuccoed ceilings. The tomb of Valeri strikes with the perfect preservation of the medallions of white stucco (above) which amazes the visitor at the moment he enters in the hall – now illuminated by led lights which help to preserve the integrity of the original site.
A thousand details, mythological characters, maritime scenes, flowers and plants will capture your attention so that you’ll not be able to take your eyes off – we promise you a nice stiff neck in the end of the tour.

sepolcro pancrazi 1The other tomb we suggest you to visit is the tomb of the Pancratii that is often named the “Sistine Chapel of the Ancient Rome”.

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An art lover once entered will not want to leave for at least an hour and a half, and maybe it would take a lot more to discover all the details. You can never tire of watching the colors, the characters painted and the stories told…

In these beautiful sunny days of december we will definitely pay a visit to the beautiful Archeological Park for a morning walk, let us know if you did the same!