Be captivated by the ancient port of Rome, its shops, storehouses and daily life. On a day from Rome to Ostia Antica you'll learn how Imperial Rome depended on Ostia for its very survival.
Explore the magnificently preserved remains of Rome's ancient port
The mysteries of this beautiful archaeological park surrounded by umbrella pines and cypress trees are endless, spanning wonderful mosaic floors, frescoes, statues and majestic buildings that remain amazingly intact even today. Here there is no modern city obscuring the secrets of these ancient ruins, and on this special private tour of Ostia Antica we can wander through this beautiful maze as if we are its first discoverers.
The ancient Roman port city of Ostia Antica is only a half-hour train journey from Rome. Though it used to be on the sea, silt build-up over the centuries means that it now lies three kilometers inland. In fact, it was this sand blowing in gradually from the coast that has preserved the city so well for our eyes today. 'Ostia' means 'mouth,' and refers to this city's important position at the mouth of the Tiber River. As Rome grew in importance Ostia grew with it into a thriving port city of 80,000 inhabitants in its hey-day during the days of the Imperial empire. The city was very well connected to Rome by the river Tiber and the ancient roads of Via Ostiense and Via Portuensis, which in those days were renowned as being the busiest in the Roman Empire.
To begin our private tour we will explore the secrets of the necropolis, an ancient cemetery on the outside edge of the city walls where columbaria and elaborately decorated sarcophagi held the remains of important families. From here we will follow the ancient basalt road through the city entrance where the twin colossal statues to the goddess Minerva guarded the entry gates.
At the Baths of the Cart drivers we will admire whimsical mosaics showing portraits of favorite horses along with their affectionate pet-names. From here we will end up at the Baths of Neptune, where we will learn of ancient bathing customs and realise just how civilised the Romans really were. Amazing mosaic floors showing the god Neptune along with his mermaids and other mythical sea creatures are on display here, which we will view from the second storey of the bath complex.
One of the most important features of Ostia were the warehouses that stored goods imported from all over the Roman Empire. With such a concentration of produce it became necessary to guard against potentially devastating fires, and so the Emperor Augustus established a Fire Station which we can still visit today. We will see its important Altar to the Emperors, as well as its bathroom with marble seats and coved ceilings. After passing a row of shops we will step inside the Tavern of Fortunatus to see the floor mosaic that welcomed his guests with the greeting "Fortunatus says if you are thirsty, drink wine from the crater." The accompanying picture of a giant drinking goblet drives the innkeeper's message home.
The next stop on this private Rome tour will be a beautiful Roman Theatre from the first century B.C., used today for evening concerts in the summer. Here up to 4,500 people were seated and entertained with tragedies, aquatic shows, music and bawdy comedies. Behind the theatre we will explore the Square of the Corporations, a rare site surrounding the Temple to Venus which housed the offices of merchants decorated with mosaics displaying their vocations, ranging from the transport of wheat to live elephants.
After lunch we will continue our private tour with a visit to the small museum with displays of many sculptures and frescoes found on-site. Next an intriguing visit to the Thermopolium, an ancient bar and restaurant that looks almost as if it could still be serving food today. Across the street we will see the famous House of Diana, one of the most important surviving apartment buildings from ancient Roman times. After visiting a bakery and seeing a field of giant pottery containers for oil and wine, we will arrive at the Curia and the Forum - the civic heart of Ostia and site of the temples to Hercules and the Goddess Roma.
Along the way we will see temples to the most important gods and goddesses of the ancient world, including a field dedicated to the worship of the great mother goddess Cybele, many Mithraic Temples as well as a rare Jewish Synagogue and an important Christian site. At the end of the tour we will visit opulent Pompey-style houses complete with beautiful interior courtyards and statues, as well as the impressive Baths of the Forum. These baths were famous for their delicate design which followed the path of the sun, their large Corinthian columns, a hexagonal gymnasium and public men's and women's bathrooms.
After an exciting day visiting these wondrous sites on this special ancient Rome private tour, your guide will return with you on the train to Rome from where you can take a taxi back to your hotel.
For a complete visit to the Eternal City we recommend our Private Colosseum Tour & Ancient Rome: VIP Experience and our evening tour Stroll of the Artists.