out of town excursion to Ostia Antica
a walk in EUR or a visit to the Centrale Montemartini.
The archaeological site of Ostia Antica offers a unique opportunity to complete the image of the ancient city by exploring the aspect of daily life, otherwise difficult to identify among the great public monuments of capital.
Founded around the 4th century BC as a military base between the mouth of the Tiber and the coast, Ostia soon became the commercial port of ancient Rome and for this reason was tightly connected to its history. The goods destined to the support of the capital, but also to its urban development and entertainment industry, came through here. The visit is made especially pleasant by the extraordinary natural context, a fundamental element in the perception of the romantic charm of ruins that was highly appreciated by 19th century travellers. Even here Nature seems to almost regain possession of the space taken up by the work of man, creating a landscape that communicates a strong sense of the ineluctable passing of time.
Ostia Antica can be reached easily by the train to Ostia Lido that departs from Porta San Paolo (Ostia Antica stop).
On the way back from Ostia Antica, it is possible to get off the train at one of the stops before Porta San Paolo for a walk through EUR, and explore the more modern aspect of the city. The area was originally intended to host the “Esposizione Universale di Roma” (the Universal Exhibition of Rome”) scheduled for 1942, in the context, at the time, of a debate on contemporary architecture and town planning. The Exhibition never took place owing to the start of World War II and EUR was completed after the end of it. Conceived as part of a plan for the southward development of the city, the neighbourhood was built ex novo according to criteria drawn for ancient Roman architecture and urban planning in its monumental and rational aspects, that can also be found in Renaissance classicism.
The Centrale Montemartini represents one of the most original and remarkable outcomes of the coexistence of ancient and modern in Rome. Ancient statues from the collections of the Capitoline Museums are displayed in the rooms of the first public electrical power plant of the city, inaugurated in 1912, and the only one that kept working during the Second World War thanks to the ingenious stratagem of hoisting the Vatican City flag above it. More than 400 statues of gods, heroes and personalities of imperial rank populate the machine rooms amidst transformers and generators that evoke the sound of turbines, creating a highly evocative surreal effect.
A suggestion for a special evening: a performance at the permanent outdoor theatre “Silvano Toti”, in Villa Borghese, in Piazza Aqua Felix. Modelled on the Globe theatre in London, it has a capacity of 3000 seats.
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