Less famous than its cousin Pompeii, the city of Ostia, founded in the fourth century BC, is just as important an archaeological site. A visit here will give you a good idea of what daily life was like in a port city of ancient Rome. Victim of siltation, like Pompeii was of Mount Vesuvius, it is paradoxically the natural disaster that is the source of its incredible preservation.
It is as if life has been suspended briefly here, and will resume again at any time, rekindling the embers in the ovens of the two bakeries, waking the macellum (market), returning customers to the counter of the thermopolium (hostel), and vigils (fire-fighters) to their barracks. Hold a treasure hunt: can you find graffiti carved on a column of the market that says, ‘Read and know that we chatter a lot at the market'; or the dolphin on the fishmonger's tabernae, swallowing a mosaic octopus, and this warning: ‘Envious, I trample you.' These fantasies will delight young and old alike.
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