April 6, 2010
In only 20 minutes via subway and commuter train we had left Rome and arrived, on this bright, warm morning, in the ancient Roman port town of Ostia. Founded in about 400 BC, this town grew to about 100,000 residents and became essential to the very life of the city. It was here that all the Egyptian grain was unloaded to feed the teeming throngs of the ancient city, several miles upstream on the Tiber River. When the harbor silted up and the Empire declined, Ostia was abandoned and eventually covered over by thick layers of preserving mud. As it was a perfect cross section of Roman life through the ages, it has become even more important as an archaeological site than Pompeii, which represented just the Beverly Hills level of society and was only 100 years old when destroyed. The ruins and wonderful mosaics, out in a peaceful country setting, bear witness to the importance of this harbor town 2000 years ago.
Later in the day we returned to Rome and visited the Capitoline Museum, where the huge hand, head and finger of the Constantine statue are displayed. This statue stood at one end of the Basilica (or court of law) of Constantine in the ancient Roman Forum. Also on display is the entirely (OK, mostly) intact statue of one of Rome´s great emperors, Marcus Aurelius on a horse, all done in bronze. Nearby is the statue of the she-wolf which, according to ancient legend, suckled the twins Romulus and Remus, the first of whom gave his name to the city centuries before Christ. In the adjoining museum is one of the masterpieces of Roman sculpture, The Dying Gaul, a tribute to the valiant tribes who fought against the Roman army…and of course lost.
We strolled through Piazza Venezia over to the bus stop and within minutes were back at our hotel, looking forward to wine and dinner.
MIKE / Mike Ross Travel
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