Rome and Ostia Antica
12 June 2014 | Rome
We selected a marina southwest of Rome to berth the boat while we explored the Rome area. A nice British couple on Moody Blue had recommended Porto di Roma because it had good connections via train to the ancient site of Ostia Antica as well as into Rome itself. So we enjoyed 2 nights here while we explored Rome.
During the height of the Roman Empire, Ostia Antica was the harbor town set at a point where the Tiber River flowed into the sea. It was a busy city of 100,000 people but after the fall of Rome, and the silting of the river, it was decimated by malaria and virtually disappeared by the Middle Ages. Despite the fact that we have seen many many ancient ruins in our recent Med travels, we found the size of this city and the preservation of the ruins to make it a worthwhile visit.
After a morning visit to Ostia Antica, we continued on the metro train into Rome itself. Because we have been in Rome several times in the past, we didn't plan any extensive tour, so we just hopped on a city tour bus and got a nice 2 hour overview of great sites. We hopped off at the Colosseum for an ice cream break (it was over 90 degrees that day!) and we spent time around the Trevi Fountain (which was not working for renovations so had to take photos at a nearby Barbirini Fountain) and marveled at our "favorite" site, the Pantheon. The perfectly shaped building which is 142 feet wide and 142 feet high is the only remaining building of Ancient Rome. It was reconstructed by Hadrian in the early 2nd century AD. The oculus in the center of the dome is a "hole" over 18 feet in diameter and the entire construction of the building is an engineering marvel. Michelangelo came here to study the dome before designing St Peters (whose dome is 2 feet smaller than the Pantheon). The walls are 25 feet thick and the bronze doors weigh 20 tons each.
The only challenge of our trip into Rome was our return on the metro train which we timed poorly since it was rush hour. Getting crushed into various subway metro cars made for a long and hot ride. On one crush a woman asked Dave if he had dropped his wallet which she just found on the subway floor near the his feet. We were really thankful that she had picked it up. Dave checked it quickly, thought everything was there and we breathed a sigh of relief. Later that night after we were back on the boat, he discovered that all the cash was missing! So we will never know if the "nice" woman removed the cash before giving it to Dave or if someone else had pickpocketed the wallet, removed the cash and dropped it on the floor. Anyway, while the loss of some cash was disturbing, at least his drivers license and various credit cards were still there. So our quick trip into Rome was a bit more expensive than we expected.
We motor sailed up the coast 30 miles to the next port on Thursday June 12, and prepared to visit 3 islands offshore in the next few days,including the island of Elba, where Napoleon was exiled.