By Flavia Loreto
Visiting Rome can be overwhelming. Rome offers too much, too many monuments, too much history, too many exhibitions and museums, too many tourists. You might decide to get away from the city’s energy for a day. Here is a suggestion from a local: a day trip to the ancient Roman harbor of Ostia Antica, a perfect refuge from the crowds, traffic horns and selfie stick-wielding tourists of Rome. Ostia Antica is located west from the center of Rome, very close to the coast and right next to a lovely medieval village dominated by the Castle erected for Cardinal Giulio II. Don’t forget your bathing suit and flip flops with you as you can finish the day with a relaxing afternoon at the Ostia seashore side.
Ostia Antica is easily reachable by metro and train. Take the blue B line from the Termini Station, change at the Piramide stop and take the Ostia Lido Train. In about 40 minutes you will reach the Ostia Antica stop. Public transportation is a very normal way to move around in Europe and in Italy it is extremely cheap, A train trip from the center of Rome to Ostia only costs €1,50 ($1.63 at the current exchange rate). Ostia Antica offers a beautiful walk under the Roman pines. In spring, this place is surrounded by wild flowers and herbs that will intoxicate your senses.
Ostia antica is not only an immersion in history, but a bucolic experience that will allow you to relax from the crazy urban life of a big city like Rome. As in the Roman Forum or Pompei, you will find yourself transported 2,000 years back in time. Walking on the cobblestoned streets, you will enter the ruins of baths, shops and houses decorated with beautiful frescoes and superbly preserved mosaics, with the advantage of being in a more real and less touristic place. On the ground of the archeological park, there is a souvenir shop and a cafeteria offering delicious, typically Italian dishes. But you could also bring a picnic and eat on the steps of the amphitheater. If you prefer to eat outside the archeological park, just cross the street from the entrance of the park and visit the picturesque medieval town of Ostia Antica where you can choose among three local trattorias. There you will also find the Castel built for Pope Giulio II and the beautiful 15th century church of Sant’Aurea.
After a morning full of history, it is time for a fun afternoon at the beach. Get back on the train to Ostia, and after only one stop you will be at the final Ostia Lido Centro station, the Roman seaside destination. Most of the beachfront is divided into stabilimenti, a kind of private beach clubs – and public beaches. The way the stabilimenti work is that you pay an entry fee to access the beach and then you have the option of renting a chair and/or an umbrella. You usually also get access to the restrooms and showers, and you can be sure there is a cafe or restaurants. I personally prefer the free beaches towards Torvaianica, where the color of the sand changes from the black of the first Ostia beaches, to a warm gold color. Bright, wonderful, free beaches with beautiful dunes and Mediterranean vegetation, where you can find little family restaurants located directly on the sand, and where you can drink your Aperol Spritz enjoying at a wonderful sunset before returning to the center of Rome.