The Black-and-White of Ostia Antica


The ancient sea port of Imperial Rome, Ostia Antica, is rich in mosaics. In the Roman period mosaics were a very common floor decoration, but also walls and ceilings were decorated with them.

I have seen many mosaics, floors and walls, in churches and in Roman villas. One of the most beautiful domus I have seen was in Piazza Amarina in Sicily. They are simply breathtaking. But I have to say that the ones in Ostia Antica were surprisingly beautiful and rich in details, too.


What is a mosaic? A mosaic is a picture made of many little pieces of stones, glass or even other materials. These little stones are called tesserae, if they are flat. If they are round, they form a pebble mosaic. We are talking here about the first type.

The first ones are known from Mesopotamia about 5.000 years ago (!). They were used in all societies. I saw them on Mount Nebo in Jordan, in churches in Cyprus, in Catharge in Tunisia and many other Mediterranean countries. I know they are also in India or Russian speaking countries. Still today, you can find mosaics even though they are not that much in use anymore.


The mosaics in Ostia Antica are mainly in black and white and pretty much everywhere. The colorless mosaics are maybe because people living here were merchants, workers, well, the working class. Very impressive is the ‘Piazza delle Coperazioni’ (right behind the theater) with its 61 shops and offices, every one has its own mosaic which seems to tell what kind of business was done in the little establishment.

The mosaics are made of tesserae in marble, flint, local rocks and/or calcareous stones. They depict geometric designs, flowers, animals, portraits of gods, mythological creatures and daily life.

In the ‘Terme di Nettuno’, the public bath, you can see them from an elevated point, they are surprisingly elaborate and full of details. They are so majestic that it seems that Nettuno, God of the sea, is really in movement.


The ancient city of Ostia has a lot of mosaics to offer. And the nearby Isla Sacra with the necropolis has even more. It is worth to go around and look at all of them, most of them are very big and rich in details. The black and white makes it very interesting and more ‘down-to-earth’ instead of the colorful ones you oftentimes can see in the aristocratic homes.

In the excavation site you can walk pretty free, not many houses are closed for public view. So enter wherever you can and have a look and enjoy this beautiful, ancient architectural art.

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Ostia Antica, Lazio,/Italy:

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

Who needs information about the Airport Fiumicino


Posted in Europe, Italy, Lazio, ON TRAVEL | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Il Mueso Ostiense – The Museum of Ostia Antica


Ostia Antica is a huge archeological site near to Rome. Once it was built right at the mouth of the river Tiber, but today it is located around 5 km/3 miles inland. The city was once home for over 100.000 people… an amazing active sea port city.

The excavations brought so many artifacts to the surface, nevertheless hundreds of years ago already many foreign people were digging for sculptures and other interesting objects.

The museum was situated thanks to Pope Pius IX more than 150 years ago in a 15th century style building. It has several rooms, all very bright and full of light. They contain collections of portraits and busts of famous people like Cicero, Faustina the Elder or Trajan. Some votive statues for Mithras and a beautiful statue of Cupid and Psyche. Amazing are the reliefs of a sarcophagus. Some smaller objects like glass or marble objects of the daily life.

I collected a few photos I took in the museum so you can have a first impression of what to expect. Right behind the museum there is a little bar/restaurant and a souvenir shop where you can find some interesting books about Ostia Antica and Ancient Imperial Rome.

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Ostia Antica, Lazio,/Italy:

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

Who needs information about the Airport Fiumicino


Posted in Europe, Italy, Lazio, ON TRAVEL | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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


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

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