Ostia Antica – In the Ancient Sea Port of Rome


Ostia Antica is an archeological site near to Rome and was once the harbor of Ancient Rome. Today it is known also for the nearby airport in Fiumicino.

Since childhood, I’ve walked in archaeological sites. My mother thought them very interesting, history was her passion. And obviously she wanted me to have the same interest in it, like she had. As a child it didn’t work out that well, I saw them as stones, and they had no practical use for me. Growing older I visited most of the ancient places within the Mediterranean Sea but it was not before Pompeii that I got really intrigued. I always loved reading historical novels and one of the most impressive to me was a book about the last days of Pompeii where the protagonist was one of the people who died in the disaster of 79 AD. I visited Pompeii and saw every stone with a different understanding. Since then, I have the same passion as my mother had.

One of the places I haven’t been yet was Ostia Antica, the sea port of Rome. This summer I had the opportunity!


Ostia was built at the river mouth of the Tiber, which still flows through Rome. History says that the 4th king of Rome, Ancus Marcius, destroyed previously an older village more inside the land and built the new nearer to the sea. The oldest buildings are of a castrum, a fortified military camp, from the 7th century BC. Today there are still the walls of a castrum of the 3rd century BC.

In the 1st century BC the place was destroyed during the Civil Wars between Sulla and Gaius Marius in order to cut off the food supply and the trade to the big city of Rome. In 68 BC pirates gave fire to the sea port and captured two senators. The pirates were defeated within a year and the city rebuilt. To fortify the city Marcus Tullio Cicero provided the town with protective walls.

Until the 1st century AD the port and town were enriched, more fortified and enlarged.


In the 3rd century AD in Ostia there lived more than 100.000 people. The cult of Mithras was very popular during this period. But there was also the earliest synagogue in Europe, which made the city also a multi religious place.

With the decline of Rome in the 4th century AD under Constantine I, Ostia started its decline as well. The port was not really that important anymore to a dying Rome with its 800.000 inhabitants itself. Invaded by the Barbarians, people left the city half destroyed and never re-built it. Malaria in the Middle Ages did the rest and the city became empty and forgotten.

During the Baroque period architects from Rome used the marble of Ostia’s houses and villas for new palazzi in Rome and foreign explorers were searching for statues and other items for their private collections or even to sell them, Ostia was plundered.

A hundred of years later, in the 18th century, excavation was started and is still continuing. Mussolini was one of the biggest supporters of the excavations. A lot is discovered but it could be that a good part is still unearthed and even lying under the nearby airport of Fiumicino.


The city had a huge bath with wonderful mosaics. I was very surprised about it. The theater reminded me the arena of Verona. Here in Ostia the theater is still a place of performance, too.

Behind the theater there is the ‘piazza’ with dozens of little (once) shops and offices. Most impressive are the mosaics here.

There are streets with restaurants and bars. It is so easy to imagine how life was once in this big city.


The entrance of the archeological site is directly in front of the castle of the village of Ostia Antica. In the excavation site there is a souvenir shop and a bar with snacks where you can also sit outside. Nearby there is the museum with a lot of objects, statues and reliefs found in the site. You should not miss that!

I was surprised how big Ostia Antica is as I never thought it would be big like Pompeii. But you have to calculate at least 4 hours if not more to see most of the places, streets, houses and public buildings. The museum doesn’t take more than maybe 45 minutes. From here it is almost half an hour back to the entrance/exit.

I highly recommend reading a little bit about Ancient Ostia BEFORE visiting it. Although there are many information boards everywhere to explain the street system, the water system, the necroplis or the fountains it helps to feel actually the pulsing life that this city once had.

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Ostia Antica, Lazio,/Italy:

For further information:
Website of Ostia Antica (in Italian)

Who needs information about the Airport Fiumicino


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Homemade Pea Soup Made with LOVE


Pea soup…. it’s a typical German dish during winter time. You find it everywhere, many restaurants, stands on the markets and at festivals, people just love pea soup made with sausage.

We had my sweethearts parents over for lunch. And his mother asked for his homemade pea soup. I was curious…

 


The recipe is from a newspaper, it looks like something like 30 years ago. Simple, complicated and yummy all together. He prepared a big pot so during the week he can bring some to work for dinner. But I guess not too many times as I like the soup also very much.

He made also homemade potato bread to accompany the soup. It looked fantastic and had a smell to die for. I still have to try to ‘translate’ the bread into a paleo version. I will do that soon. It is nearly a ‘must’ for the soup.

Enjoy this hearty soup! Perfect for cold winter weather!

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Pea Soup
Pea Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
Pea Soup
Pea Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Fry the bacon in a big pot until it is brown. Take out the bacon and put it on a paper towel, set aside.
  2. Add in the pan all the leek, onions, celery. Cook the vegetables until limp.
  3. Add the split peas and the broth (with water) and the ham bone (optional). Add also the bacon.
  4. Cover and simmer until everything is soft, about 1 and a half hour or more. Stir occasionally.
  5. 10 Minutes before the soup is ready add the Kielbasa sausage.
  6. Serve hot with some fresh made potato bread, garnish with some parsley.
Recipe Notes

Instead of the ham bone you can leave out any kind of meat. Or you can put any kind of sausage.

The soup is best if prepared the day before and can sit overnight. 

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Zucchero Fornaciari 2018 in Venice


One of my favorite musicians is Zucchero. I remember him well from when nearly no one knew him. I heard him the very first time in the beginning of the eighties in a concert in Ischia. I saw him again in Ischia, years later and in a well-paid concert. Today his concerts are worldwide and under 100 € nearly you can’t get a ticket.


His real name is Adelmo Fornaciari and he is Italian. He was born in 1955 in Roncocesi, Emilia-Romagna. He grew up in Tuscany where he played the piano in the church and was singing in the choir. Later he was interested in becoming a veterinarian and nearly finished the studies. But then he can’t deny anymore his passion for music – he writes songs since he is 14 years old –, learned multiple instruments and starts his career. I remember him well when he was ‘imitating’ Joe Cocker (I was at a Joe Cocker Concert in Rome in the early 1980s). He was so brave, some voice, same moves… I just loved both of them. Rhythm and Blues, Soul… that was his world. His success came more to the end of the eighties, since then he had concerts with Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Pavarotti, Sting and countless other important musicians, international and Italian. In the beginning of his career he was singing very much in English, I remember, today he is mainly singing in Italian or often also mixing the two languages in the same song.


When my friend came to visit me, she was sitting on the train and watching an ad about the concert of Zucchero in Venice. It was always her dream to visit Venice, and she likes Zucchero. She asked me if I would like to go and the very same evening, when she arrived we booked a hotel and the train to Venice. No ticket for the concert available anymore. But the concert would be in Piazza San Marco, maybe we would have a chance to listen to it somewhere.

It came out exactly that way. We were on the piazza with another (felt like) one million people. We all were singing with Zucchero, dancing and holding lighters. It was such a great atmosphere! We were sitting for one and a half hour on a little wall and enjoying the concert. Zucchero for me is one of the best musicians, international.

Who else was at the concert? Do you know him and do you like his music? Please tell me in a comment!

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Venice, Veneto/Italy:

For further information:
Tourism Board of Venice
Website of Zucchero
Who wants to listen to his music


Posted in Europe, events, Italy, ON TRAVEL, Veneto | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sunset and Ancient Sight Outside of Rome


On our vacation this summer we have been to Rome. We both know Rome, I lived there for a year. My sweetie had his flight back to the US from Rome. The main airport is located in Ostia which was once the port of Ancient Rome. I was many times at the airport in Rome, big, chaotic and you definitely ​need to allow time before the flight. The connections to Rome city center are very good. There is a regular train every half an hour or less from inside the airport to the central station in Rome and vice versa.

But I thought not to pass a day in Rome but instead to stay outside near to the beach and visit Ostia Antica. I have never been there and I always wanted to see the ancient city. I found the perfect stay at Torvaianica, just 15 minutes south of Ostia.


We came up the Via Appia from the south, Naples to be exact. We drove along the coast and had spectacular views, passed wonderful little cities and white beaches. I enjoyed the drive very much, even though I was the driver. Somewhere we had a quick lunch and arrived in the beach town in the late afternoon. I sent a message to Marcela, our host, and she appeared a few minutes later.

The apartment is on the second floor, has a balcony on two sides and is great and spacious. For the car there is a garage in the basement, a little narrow but fine. Here we found beach chairs and parasols for the beach. The beach.. just across the street and there is fine sand, warm nice water and an endless beach. I could walk back to Naples, I think.

The apartment has a nice entrance hall with an open living room, a new bathroom, a perfect kitchen and a bedroom. All rooms have a door out to the balcony. Clean, nicely furnished, all essential there without being over-loaded. It couldn’t be better!


Personal experience:
The house is calm, we didn’t hear any other people. The traffic stops around 11 pm and doesn’t start early. It was no problem to sleep with an open window.

In the fridge we found fruit, water and more, there was even pasta, tomato sauce and much more in a fully equipped kitchen. I found even coffee and the Italian Moka to make my morning espresso!

Marcela was very kind, she explained the many keys and locks, she gave good advice where the next supermarket is, where to have a good pizza or fish and how much time it will take to Ostia.

We had something to eat on the balcony the first evening enjoying the sunset, it is so beautiful!


I recommend:
To stay in this beach place was the best idea. We wanted to have some beach time, but also to see Ostia Antica. It took us around half an hour to find the sight, even though it is very easy. Just follow the street along the sea and then the indication from Ostia to Ostia Antica.

It is also easy to arrive in Rome. When you are on the GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare) you have many exits for the city center or the autostrada/Highway. Don’t forget: these places have a lot of traffic even away from the rush hours and always calculate a lot of time.

I warmly recommend Ostia Antica, the little town like the ancient city. It is completely different to many other historical sights. The little borgo in the castle is a perfect place to have lunch (we had also dinner there).

To sit on the beach in the late morning and watch the fishermen returning with their fish catch. You can listen to people coming directly to the boat to buy. I guess many if the fish are also for the restaurants along the beach.


Torvaianica, Lazio/Italy:

For further information:
Airbnb


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Breathtaking Views from the Torre Grossa in San Gimignano


Just a few steps from the Piazza della Cisterna (Square of the Cistern) there is the Piazza del Duomo (Square of the Cathedral). Here is the duomo and the Torre Grossa, the Big Tower. At my first visit in San Gimignano I didn’t have the possibility to climb up for the breathtaking view and the museum. So I did this time.


The Torre Grossa is the tallest of the remaining towers and hosts the civic museum as well as the highest point to visit in the city. It reaches 54 m/177 ft and was built between 1300 and 1310. It is one of three which is open to the public – but there are still 16 towers from originally 72. They were for different uses which also includes homes for living.

The tower has a vaulted passage on the bottom and is connected to the Palazzo Comunale (town hall) where the civic museum is located.

The two days entrance ticket is valid for the tower, as well as all the museums of the city. You get the ticket in the Palazzo courtyard between the church and the tower.


We first got up the tower. They had a very intriguing 3D show in the middle of the tower in a way we were walking around it. It distracted a little from the many steps to take.

On the top – attention: the last steps are a narrow ladder and for some people it could be a challenge – there is a huge platform with a very high protection wall. In the middle there is a beautiful immense big bell hanging, but it seems that it is not functioning anymore. The view from the top of the tower is more than breathtaking! The city itself with the roof-gardens and roof-terraces, the narrow streets, the Piazza della Cisterna, the theater and the surrounding city walls and then the countryside. With a clear view (mainly in autumn/fall) you can see to the north and south towards the end of Tuscany. It’s amazing, don’t forget your camera!


After descending the stairs, we stopped in the museum. The gallery shows a lot of works from painters like Lippo Memmi, Pinturicchio, d di Bartolo, Lorenzo di Niccolò and many others. Incredibly beautiful are the matrimonial scenes in the Podestà chamber. The reason for these unusual paintings in a very public room is that it had to remind the officials that they are part of the populace. These works are by Memmo di Filippuccio of the 14th century.

Amazing is also the Sala di Dante. The huge Maestà by Lippo Memmi is impressive!

We had a short look in the little souvenir shop, but I was strong and didn’t buy anything (I love all Medieval things).

The museum and the tower are open the whole year (closed only on the 25th December) between 11 am and 5.30 pm (7.30 pm in summer).

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San Gimignano, Tuscany/Italy:

For further information:
San Gimignano
San Gimignano
Tuscany


Posted in Europe, Italy, ON TRAVEL, Tuscany | Tagged , | Leave a comment