Ostia Antica was once Rome's major port and is thought to have been
founded as early as the 4th century BC. This port city was located at the mouth of the
Tiber River on the Tyrrhenian Sea, approximately 30
kilometers to the southwest of Rome (just south of the Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci).
Eventually, Ostia Antica grew to become an important port and naval base, as well a
leading commercial center.
However, its trajectory followed that of the Empire
and by the 4th century A.D. Ostia Antica's port capabilities had declined and
its role as a mercantile center had come to a close. While in decline, the town suffered through earthquakes, tsunamis
and invasions. Later in its history, it became a "quarry" for other
cities in Italy, who sought its marble and
other building materials that could taken from the ruins of this once
By the way, silting in the Tiber caused the river to change course, and
the town is now around 3 kilometers from the coast. However, even after all
the historical changes and damage, Ostia Antica is a great place to visit
and doing so will help you imagine life
in a Roman town of the 2nd or 3rd century. It is a living
museum, similar to Pompeii, but without the drama of a volcano. Ostia
Antica is an excellent place to spend a day
exploring and it is not far from Rome.
If you think you might
be interested in visiting, there is an excellent website site to guide your
adventure. It can be found at
and provides a detailed, downloadable tourist guide.
(Exploring Ostia Antica is easiest if you have a car.)
The area to explore at Ostia Antica is extensive and
will take at least a half a day if you want to look in all the nooks and
crannies. The mosaics are well-preserved and interesting and there are
numerous buildings to explore. In addition, there is a mini-cafeteria
offering food and drinks to relax after all that roaming in the hot sun.
Finally, there is a small shop where you can buy a remembrance of your
Tivoli - Villa d'Este
Tivoli is a small hill town to the east of Rome that
provides access to two amazing attractions. In the town itself is the Villa
d'Este, A UNESCO World Heritiage site, replete with stunning gardens, a
unique water garden and an interesting 16th century villa.
On a plain south of the town you will find Villa Adriana, another World
Heritage site,which was
constructed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian early in the 2nd century.
The Villa d'Este and its gardens are considered
one of the highlights of Renaissance culture. The garden's design served as
a model for many of the prominent gardens that were later developed in
Europe. The landscaping of Villa d'Este is stunning and its mixture of water,
topography and plantings is very pleasing example of formal Italian Gardens.
more information see this official website
Villa Adriana, near Tivoli, is an interesting site featuring a villa built by
the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century. Hadrian was an unpopular
and regarded by many Romans as an outsider, whom, they
claimed, was not born in Italy. Whatever the truth of his lineage, it
is clear that Hadrian did not enjoy spending time in Rome and during most of
his reign he traveled the Empire. We understand that Hadrian,
who was an excellent administrator, had a significant interest in
architecture and considered himself an architect of some skill. His
buildings in Rome, Italy and across the Roman Empire remain some of its finest
monuments (e.g. the Pantheon, Castel Sant'Angelo, Hadrian's Wall (United
Kingdom) and Hadrian's Gate and Library (Athens)).
Not taken with city life, and especially unhappy with the politics of living
in Rome, Hadrian created a
beautiful villa in the country near Tivoli. His plan for the villa incorporated the
best of the architectures he had seen around the Mediterranean into the
country home he called Villa Adriana.
After his death the Adriana feel into disrepair and was all but forgotten for
the next 1200 years. Cardinal Ippolite II de"Este (responsible for
building the Villa d'Este - in part using marble taken from Villa Adriana) was, also, responsible for rehabilitating Villa
Adriana. Although today's site is a ruin, it is an interesting
location and wandering though its remains is a pleasant way to spend an
afternoon. We think it not too hard to explore the site and imagine
its past glory. In fact, Villa Adriana is credited with playing a
crucial role in the rediscovery of classical Roman and Mediterranean
architecture by the architects of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
There does not appear to be an official
website for Villa Adriana, but we think you will find this website -
helpful in deciding whether Villa Adriana is for you.
Other Day Trips
Pompeii and other locations to be good targets for day trips
from Rome. There is no question that there are many world-class
attractions in Italy, but we think that visiting them as "day trips"
is aggressive and you may spend a large portion of your day in transit,
actually touring and learning about the destination.
In order to visit these distant locations you will have to depart early in
the morning and will not see you hotel again until late that night. In addition, you
will likely dine on fast food and miss the opportunity for to sample
an excellent meal in the Italian countryside. Our experience has been that there just isn't enough
time to appreciate unique, extensive and wonderful destinations
when you spend most of your time in transit.
However, this may be your only chance to experience these enticing
locations. If you want to wander, take a look at our section on the
best places to visit in Italy and have at it. Pompeii, the Amalfi
Coast and Florence are popular day trips from Rome and many companies offer
packaged tours to these locations.
Next - Return to our
Rome Travel Guide Home Page
Return to Best Places to Visit in Italy
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.